UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (21-3) collided against interim champ Petr Yan (16-3) in a long-awaited title unification rematch at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. The fight aired live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.
Catch the video highlights below.
For more on Yan vs. Sterling 2, check out the live blog from MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew.
Round 1: Yan out in orthodox while Sterling is in southpaw. Sterling opens up with a pair of kicks. Yan is cutting the cage and Sterling already back behind the black lines of the octagon. High guard and footwork from Yan.
Sterling looking composed in there and shoots a double from distance that Yan sprawls out. The crowd is paradoxically chanting “Let’s go, Peter!” and “U.S.A.” Gotta love that.
Much more measured approach from Sterling this fight as he’s on his bike and looking for shots. Yan can’t close the range just yet and Sterling is landing some decent kicks thus far.
Yan really not throwing much and Sterling is staying active enough with kicks at range. He is crowding Sterling though, and the champion is moving a lot.
Sterling looks for a sweep of an brief tie up but immediately abandons it as Yan has his hips off it, and we’re back to the hunt. Yan rushes forward but whiffs on all of them as Sterling ducks under and comes back with his own big shots that Yan ducks in turn. Both men looking a little tense.
Sterling staying on that bike and landing some kicks while Yan is trying to chase him down but can’t find anything clean. Yan getting a little wild with kicks and hooks and that’s a bit odd. Sterling never stops moving and he’s doing a good job of feinting takedowns but Yan lands a big left hand during a tie up as the round ends.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Sterling.
Round 2: A lot of people are gonna give that round to Yan, but he landed so little that was clean. Sterling had the consistent kicks to the body that won the round for me. But this is where Yan usually starts to get going.
Round 2 starts same with Sterling throwing some kicks. His landing to the body well here, and Yan is still marching him down. Yan throwing his own kicks now though, and that’s a good adjustment.
Now they’re hand-fighting in space and Sterling shoots but Yan stuffs it easily. Yan is a ferocious takedown defender. But Sterling reshoots and he gets it! And Sterling is on the back now! That happened so quickly!
Sterling has the back and a body triangle. Yan has Sterling’s back against the fence but this is bad news and Sterling is playing the backpack. Yan fighting hands and Sterling appears to be talking to him. That body lock isn’t going ANYWHERE. Sterling is strapped on.
Two minutes remain and the crowd is booing, but the can kick rocks. Yan gave up his back and can’t get Sterling off. Sterling still trying to feed an arm under while landing some chipping shots. He then unloads a couple big right hands and Yan moves and goes belly down! Sterling hammering Yan from the top!
Yan holding onto an arm to survive but Sterling is bashing his head in! Yan finally is able to roll to the back and that’s much better than belly down but Sterling straight hustling him on the floor. Yan surviving though and he’s gonna make it to the end of the round but that was a huge effort from the champion.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-8 Sterling, 20-17 Sterling.
Round 3: Sterling’s corner believe that Yan is breaking after that round. I’m not sure about that, but it was a monster round from the champion. Certainly shutting haters up that round. And he looks fresh as a daisy for the third.
Round 3 starts similar but Yan appears to have more urgency. He’s coming forward with volume now, and throwing kicks. Sterling ducks under for a takedown but Yan defends. Now Yan has Sterling against the fence. They get to space and Yan bites on a takedown feint and Sterling hits him high! Yan stumbling a bit and Sterling shoots a double and he gets it! Yan tries to spring up but Sterling immediately takes the back and here we go again!
This is a freaking show from Sterling, who has another body triangle and he’s got an arm almost fed under. Yan fighting hands. He tries to break the lock and roll but Sterling is a master from here. Yan looking GASSED right now, which is definitely a first.
Yan doing well on defense this round and Sterling hasn’t put together a lot of damage this time around. He’s having to control more. Dominant showing still. Yan in trouble now for real. He’s losing the fight and even if he can stay alive, tough to see him winning if he gives up another takedown.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Sterling, 30-26 Sterling overall.
Round 4: Yan’s corner showing a little bit of panic right now. They’ve never really seen their fighter in trouble, and he’s in it now. They tell him straight up that they need this round.
Sterling looking clean to start but Sterling goes for a bad takedown and Yan hits him with a combo that has Sterling stumbling back!Yan really stepping up his pressure now and Sterling is reacting poorly now. He’s looking for bad, desperate shots, knowing how dominant he’s been on the ground, and that’s allow Yan to tee off.
Sterling shoots another takedown that Yan sprawls and Yan works his way to the back. He’s got the rear waist cinch against the fence now, but Sterling fighting the grips. They separate and Yan is landing well. Sterling throwing back more but eating more.
Yan throws a kick that Sterling catches and immediately moves to the back but Yan is able to shake him overtop and now Yan is inside Sterling’s guard. Not sure if this is good for Yan though. He is tuning Sterling up on the feet. But Yan seems content to stay on top, and Sterling trying to turn on a hip to start an offensive series. Yan not doing much but chipping shots.
90 seconds left and we’re still here, with Yan content to hold the top and while he’s winning the round, he needs more. Yan postures up finally and lands a wicked right hand but Sterling rolls and now it’s Yan back on the rear waist lock. Sterling tries to roll but Yan is in half guard now and he’s landing some good elbows. Yan starting to assert himself here while Sterling still looking to roll up on a sweep. He isn’t able to do it though, and Yan has won a round finally.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Yan, 39-36 Sterling.
Round 5: The scorecards on this one could be VERY interesting. That first round is anyone’s guess and they may not have given Sterling a 10-8 for the second round. Both men need this round.
Sterling looks super fresh for this last round and he’s on the bike and kicking again. Yan kicks his legs out from under him though but he’s back up. In space, Sterling shoots a double that Yan prevents but he does get backed to the fence and Sterling is on his hips.
Yan is able to break and lands a good left hand. Sterling popping the jab while Yan marches in. Sterling shoots another takedown that is super telegraphed. He breaks and shoots another one and this time he gets a clinch and tucks through to the rear-waist cinch. Yan gets to the fence and Sterling just holding position, looking for the chance to get the takedown. Yan says no though and turns in, breaking the grip.
In space, Sterling shoots again, gets stuffed, and shoots again. He threw a punch or two in the middle but he is now full-blown spamming takedowns and Yan is sprawling them all. Yan’s hips are so strong.
Yan piecing together offense when he’s not stuck sprawling and a big jumping knee from Yan hurts Sterling! Sterling was ducking down and ate it! He’s on the retreat but tries to fire back and now Yan has gotten the rear waist cinch and Sterling is down in turtle. Torrid pace in this one as Yan lets Sterling away.
Sterling again spamming takedowns but Yan is doing excellent work here. Sterling almost powers through a double but Yan’s hips are brilliant and he ends up getting the turtle waist lock again. Yan landing some shots while Sterling keeps moving. With 10 seconds left, Yan is able to get the back but Sterling stands and Yan breaks. This one is going to come down to the judges and that could mean ANYTHING. Great fight though.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 Yan, 48-46 Sterling overall.
Aljamain Sterling defeats Petr Yan by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47).