Sterling and Yan, respectively the undisputed and interim UFC bantamweight champs, verbally sparred during the 45-minute gathering and wanted to follow in the footsteps of UFC featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski, who demanded and got a staredown with his opponent on Saturday, The Korean Zombie.
Yan marched straight across the press conference stage for Sterling, who waved in his rival. But before he could get nose-to-nose, he was interrupted by a UFC security official. Two other security officials blocked Sterling’s way as he appeared to jaw at Petr.
UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik, playing pinch hitter for an in-transit UFC President Dana White, stood between the bantamweights with a comfortable buffer from the action, and welterweight Gilbert Burns looked on at the encounter with a smile.
Check out a closer video of the near-faceoff below.
Sterling and Yan co-headline the pay-per-view event on Saturday at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in a title unifier.
Yan appeared to take many of Sterling’s insults in stride, but he promised fans in English, “I kill him on Saturday.” Sterling brought to the presser a Jacksonville Jaguars helmet and his self-penned “MMA Rulebook 4 Dummies,” referencing the controversial outcome of his first fight with Yan, which resulted in a disqualification win when the Russian illegally kneed him in the head. The American appeared to relish boos from the crowd.
“I finally get to shut this motherf***** up,” Sterling said. “It’s going to be so sweet. I guarantee everybody here is going to be cheering and all of a sudden, they’re going to be back on the bandwagon. So that’s the way the fans are, but I’m just glad the fans are going to tune in.”
The rivals made headlines on Wednesday for appearing to welcome a physical confrontation at the UFC host hotel where both are staying. But Yan clarified, “I just made a joke, and I’m not going to jeopardize the fight before.”
“I’m not going to answer all his bulls***,” the interim champ added later. “If I hit him now, he’s going to call the cops.”
Asked to predict post-fight headlines for their title unifier, they offered markedly different ideas.
Said Sterling: ‘Aljamain Sterling shocks the crowd and silences the noice. Bet your motherf****** money. Guaranteed.”
Yan replied: “It’s going to be Aljamain looking for another excuse. He didn’t eat enough, or he s*** his pants.”