UFC 267 Results: Petr Yan Claims Interim Title in Thriller Against Cory Sandhagen

Petr Yan and Cory Sandhangen, UFC 267
Petr Yan and Cory Sandhangen, UFC 267 face-off Credit: Youtube/UFC

Thanks to the withdrawal of Aljamain Sterling from his bantamweight title fight rematch with Petr Yan, UFC 267 had an interim belt on the line in its co-main event.

Instead of rematching Sterling, who won the belt due to a DQ when Yan connected with an illegal knee earlier this year, the Russian ex-champ faced off with Cory Sandhagen in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Though Sandhagen was coming off a loss to TJ Dillashaw, with the latter unavailable to fight on short notice, the #3 ranked bantamweight had a huge opportunity in front of him.

Sandhagen circled on the outside early on Saturday, getting the action going with a couple of leg kicks. The crowd backed Yan, who held center, but he had to eat a body kick from Sandhagen after firing a kick of his own. Sandhagen’s game plan early appeared to rely heavily on kicks, while he grabbed at and tied up the hands of Yan.

Sandhagen would briefly have control of Yan from the back at the midway point of the round. Taking the fight to the fence, he couldn’t get the ex-champ down. The American also showed near-constant stance switches, and was putting pressure on Yan from bell to bell, relying on volume more than power.

Round two found Cory Sandhagen pressing the action early once again, but it was Yan backing him up shortly after care of a kick to the body. Sandhagen worked his jab, and continued to slip from southpaw to orthodox, but Yan would again crack the body with a kick. Later in the round, the exchanges picked up, and Yan hit home with a spinning back-fist, a left hand trailing it. Sandhagen would pop the Russian with an uppercut, Yan would land the body kick once again.

Action-packed round to say the least. Sandhagen would come up short on a takedown, and miss with a jump knee late in the frame.

The stance switches would continue for Sandhagen in the third, but Yan was putting the pressure on a bit more. Yan’s hands were firing with increasing frequency, though Sandhagen’s movement saw a lot of those punches miss the mark. And for every attack that Yan executed, Sandhagen answered back.

Late in the third, however, the tide would turn, with Yan landing a spinning back-fist, and dropping Sandhagen! The follow-up punch seemed to be what put Cory off-balance, but the back-fist did the damage. Yan then took the back as Sandhagen got back up, dragging him down to the mat.

Going to the championship rounds, Yan would be looking to capitalize on that knockdown. Sandhagen stayed mobile, but Yan moved forward and cracked him with a left. At the midway mark of the round, Sandhangen landed a takedown, but Yan threatened with a leg lock and was able to escape in mere moments. Sandhangen would later land a couple of elbows, but Yan backed him up with his boxing, hitting the mark several times.

Petr Yan had the momentum heading into round five. Sandhagen once again circled on the outside. Yan moved forward, doubling up on his shots. Sandhangen fired a low kick, but Yan’s movement didn’t seem to be hampered much. Instead, throughout the fifth stanza, Petr Yan stalked his prey. When he couldn’t land a takedown, he landed a punch off the break. He fired a head kick that connected, which Sandhagen somehow just ate. With Sandhagen just slightly behind in the round, the fight was slipping away from him. Yan would fire a spinning kick late, Sandhagen would come up short with a flying knee, and they’d fight right past the bell, neither man even hearing it.

Yan and Sandhagen absolutely lived up to expectations and then some. Reclaiming gold, albeit the interim variety, Petr Yan has now set up the grudge match with Aljamain Sterling that was originally expected for Saturday.

Official Result: Petr Yan def. Cory Sandhagen by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)