On Saturday night, UFC 259 was billed as the biggest fight card in some time, featuring UFC three title fights and four UFC champions. Unfortunately, the first of those title fights was was marred by controversy.
The bantamweight title bout which featured reigning champion Petr Yan defending against top contender Aljamain Sterling was well on its way to earning Fight of the Night honors with a competitive, back-and-forth scrap between the two best in the world but in the fourth round as Yan was starting to come on strong, he threw a blatantly illegal knee to the head of the downed Sterling. The knee landed flush to Sterling’s head and given that referee Mark Smith had warned Yan that Sterling was a grounded fighter moments before the knee, the strike was ruled an intentional illegal blow. Ultimately the fight was not allowed to continue and as a result. Aljamain Sterling won the bantamweight championship by disqualification, a first in UFC history.
Immediately following the bout Sterling dropped the belt in the cage and then was interviewed by Joe Rogan where he said he didn’t want to win the title in this fashion and that he and Yan would rematch soon. A few hours later, Sterling reiterated this stance on his social media.
Not the way I ever want to win a fight. It was close, competitive and filled with action. I felt the knee was intentional, especially after the ref announced I was a downed opponent, so I didn’t expect to be hit.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) March 7, 2021
Yan is a bad dude! WE WILL DO IT AGAIN!#UFC259
Finally getting to watch the sequence and wow...Heartbreaking to watch https://t.co/jbXQySL3rx— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) March 7, 2021
But despite Sterling saying all “the right” things and being in no way responsible for the unfortunate ending of the bout, that did not stop the critics from coming out to attack the new champ, including former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw.
And the Oscar goes to @FakeMaster for Best Actor in a Title Fight and Petr Yan needs a crash course in the rules of the sport he was once champion in. Hey Petr now you’re a cheater too, bitch.— TJ Dillashaw (@TJDillashaw) March 7, 2021
Not one to take these slights lying down, Sterling responded in kind to Dillashaw, the champion perhaps most famously known for having to vacate his title after testing positive for EPO.
You cheated your entire UFC career and you have the balls to call someone an actor? You lost your manhood when you decided to inject yourself so that you actually compete.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) March 7, 2021
I hope Sandhagen tools like he did to you in practices before. https://t.co/D9CWOcsc5e
But Dillashaw wasn’t the only former champion to fire shots at Sterling. Henry Cejudo also was quick to throw stones at the new champ, though he did apologize for doing so shortly afterwards.
He got concussed and he couldn't fight but he could conduct a full ass interview and tweet after... this is why an Olympic gold medal is greatest accomplishment an athlete could do! But hey @funkmasterMMA at least you know you could make it Hollywood. And I’m not evening hating pic.twitter.com/YNUUMRfbvs— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) March 7, 2021
“I do want to apologize to Aljamain, I really do. I was a little upset, I was a little mad but at the same time he ended up doing the interview and the Tweets and I saw the pictures of him with the belt and it just rubbed me the wrong way. But at the end of the day it was an illegal strike by Petr “The Ugyy Potato” Yan. That’s just the way the fight goes.”
The photo Cejudo is referring to was posted to Sterling’s teammate Merab Dvalishvili’s social media, showing Sterling holding the title, and Cejudo wasn’t the only one to be upset by this. Petr Yan also was quick to jump on Sterling, to which Sterling had little patience for.
.@PetrYanUFC please allow me to cleanly knee you in the temple, while you aren’t looking! See how much of a “clown”I would be then.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) March 7, 2021
I can admit RD 4 you were starting to land more shots, but the fight was statistically close, despite me fatiguing early.
The clown here is you. https://t.co/gL2kWAupii
After Yan’s comments, Sterling even went so far as to tease a fight with Cejudo instead of Yan next, something that immediately drew the ire of “No Mercy” and kicked off another round of online beef.
Paper champ ducking the rematch already ♂️ https://t.co/bHygmTbGcB— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) March 8, 2021
You’re right Petey. I should’ve told everyone who flew out to Las Vegas, to not come to my house, to not say they were happy to see me, and to not want any pictures with me.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) March 8, 2021
By this logic, I should’ve been locked in my room until my next fight.
Makes sense. ♂️ https://t.co/osePd2JKWS
For what it’s worth, UFC President Dana White has said that he intends to book a rematch between Sterling and Yan as soon as possible and Sterling seems ready to run it back, as soon as he’s medically cleared to do so.
Can’t wait to be cleared. The future is bright and can’t wait to see what’s in store for my team and I.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) March 8, 2021
Stay the course.
Apology. Israel Adesanya apologizes to fans after first MMA loss at UFC 259: ‘I’m sorry I let you down’.
DQ. Aljamain Sterling reacts to winning bantamweight title via DQ at UFC 259: ‘That’s not the way I wanted to win’.
Rematch. Dana White believes Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan ending ‘sucked’ at UFC 259, plans on booking rematch as soon as possible.
UFC 259 Post Show.
UFC 259 Post-Fight Press Conference.
UFC 260 promo.
Volko getting you hype for his next title defense.
Arlovski not planning to retire.
Media picks for UFC Vegas 21.
Severe MMA. Reviewing all the mayhem at UFC 259.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
If aljo wanted to he has the chance to go full heal right now. Business wise might not be a bad idea “. I know chael would advise this @ChaelSonnen— Brian BOOM Kelleher (@brianboom135) March 8, 2021
There is no more food for the "Lioness " Nunes ♂️— Nordine Taleb (@TNT83MMA) March 7, 2021
Ali adding to the fray.
Chess, not checkers.
Khabib out there getting those free dinners.— Olivier Aubin (@oliaubin) March 7, 2021
Smart retired man ! https://t.co/m2yE7ghKrf
Thank you for the kind words and support. I’m doing just fine, and am not going anywhere. I’ll still be breaking fights down on my channel, and elsewhere...— Dan Hardy (@danhardymma) March 7, 2021
I’m here in service of MMA, and sometimes that puts you on the other side of the line.
I’m fine with that.
Reunited and it feels so good!
I get that the rules aren’t actually unified, but there aren’t that many of them. There is no excuse for any professional, much less a champion, to not know what is legal and illegal in the fight game. Imagine that happening in any other sport.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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