Las Vegas, NV — If you look at it on paper, the bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259 is a striker versus grappler affair.
With that in mind, the pair were asked to assess each other’s perceived weak spots during Thursday’s UFC 259 press conference. Maybe not weak spots, exactly — but at least, in comparison to their opponent.
“I think Petr has very good grappling, I just don’t think it’s to the level of mine,” Sterling (19-3) said when asked about champion Yan’s ground game. “With the level of competition that I drill with on a daily basis at Serra BJJ, and some of the competition that he’s faced— I’ve got to train with those guys as well, and I like to think that I’m one of the elite guys out there.”
“If I get his back like those guys have got his back in the past, it’s going to be a problem, and it’s going to be a short night,” Sterling proclaimed.
Yan (15-1), for his part, was asked about Sterling’s striking. “Good striking, but compared to mine, I’m going to knock him out,” promised the champ.
Ahead of the fight, the oft repeated idea that you have to defend the title to truly be champion was floated. Yan, who will be making his first title defense Saturday, actually appeared to agree. “Yes of course, I need to beat the number one contender to prove [to] everyone [that I’m the champ],” said Yan.
We’ll know whose strength trumps their opponent, and whether Yan is able to defend the belt, soon enough.
Petr Yan defends his bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259 on Saturday, March 6 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.