Aljamain Sterling is the new UFC bantamweight champion, but the circumstances surrounding his decisive title performance were anything but usual.
At UFC 259 on Saturday, when he challenged Petr Yan for the bantamweight title, Sterling (20-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) became the first fighter in UFC history to win a championship. due to disqualification. Sterling absorbed an illegal knee from Yan at 4:29 of Round 4 and was deemed unable to continue by referee Mark Smith.
The first of three title fights at UFC 259, Yan (15-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) against Sterling was an elite, searing contest of three-plus rounds. The fight was heavy in attack. Sterling led the dance, while most of Yan’s attack was reactive.
As the fight progressed, Sterling began to fade away, but before more questions could be answered about his gas tank, the fight came to a screeching halt.
The final streak occurred as the clock spun down in Round 4. With Sterling clearly on one knee after a failed out attempt, Smith warned Yan of his downed opponent’s status. Despite the referee’s warning, Yan delivered a right knee to Sterling’s head.
On impact, Sterling showed signs of injury. As he rolled across the floor and tried to sit up (only to return to a lying position on the mat), Smith called the cage doctor. After a few minutes of observation, and despite Sterling’s disappointment at the situation, the fight was cut short. Sterling lay face down on the mat and cried into his hands.
After UFC President Dana White wrapped the belt around her waist, Sterling dropped it to the mat, disappointed and with teary eyes.
After the official decision, an upset and emotional Sterling briefly interviewed UFC commentator Joe Rogan. He apologized before medical staff interrupted his interview for examination.
“That’s not how I wanted to win. That’s not the way I envisioned it, ”Sterling said. “I was trying to keep even being screwed up like this. I was in bad shape, and it would have just been the ego taking over to take another punishment.
With the win, Sterling’s winning streak extends to six. Meanwhile, the loss is only the second of his career for Yan. His debut also came controversially against current Bellator bantamweight Magomed Magomedov when the Russians were in ACB.
The bantamweight title fight was part of the UFC 259 main card at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It was aired on pay-per-view after the preliminaries on ESPN and the first preliminaries on ESPN +.
The most recent UFC 259 results include:
- Aljamain Sterling defeats. Petr Yan via disqualification (illegal knee) – Round 4, 4:29 – to become UFC bantamweight champion
- Islam Makhachev def. Drew Dober via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 3, 1:37
- Aleksandar Rakic defeats. Thiago Santos via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Dominick Cruz beats. Casey Kenney by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
- Kyler Phillips defeats. Song Yadong via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Askar Askarov def. Joseph Benavidez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Kai Kara-France beats. Rogerio Bontorin via TKO (punch) – Round 1, 4:55
- Tim Elliott beats. Jordan Espinosa via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25)
- Kennedy Nzechukwu beats. Carlos Ulberg via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:19
- Sean Brady beats. Jake Matthews via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) – Round 3, 3:28
- Amanda Lemos beats. Livinha Souza via TKO (punch) – Round 1, 3:39
- Uros Medic def. Aalon Cruz via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:40
- Trevin Jones defeats. Mario Bautista via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 0:47