A new bantamweight champion is crowned in historical fashion at UFC 259.
For the first time in UFC history, a championship has changed hands on a disqualification. An illegal knee by Petr Yan late in the fourth round resulted in a disqualification, making Aljamain Sterling the new bantamweight champion at UFC 259.
Sterling becomes the first UFC fighter in history to claim a championship as the result of a disqualification. He also hands Yan his first loss in the UFC and second loss in MMA overall.
Despite being behind on the scorecard and winning the title, however, Sterling was not happy with the matter in which the fight ended.
Aljamain Sterling becomes first UFC fighter to win championship on a DQ
Sterling brought out pressure almost immediately with his striking, landing a strong knee to the head about a minute in and forcing Yan to back up. Yan managed to counter a kick and dump Sterling to the ground in the first frame, but he elected to not follow him down. Sterling landed another hard knee and scored a takedown, but Yan got back to his feet and got Sterling’s back there.
Yan managed to knock Sterling down with a hard right hand but didn’t rush in. Sterling took Yan down with a scissors hold, but Yan was able to battle out of it and scored his own takedown, looking to lock up Sterling’s neck before the end of the opening round.
Sterling slowed down his striking pace to start the second round, on the advice of his corner. He, however, was heavy in pursuit of a takedown, but Yan defended it well with his back to the cage walls. In the final minute, Sterling was heavy in pressuring with strikes again, but he ended up taken down and nearly locked up by Yan before the round’s end once again.
Sterling tried to pressure from in close once again in the third, and while he landed some decent shots, Yan displayed good defense and counterstriking. Yan scored a trip in the third but forced Sterling, who seemed to be tiring, back to the feet. Sterling once again was pushed to the cage in a Sterling takedown attempt, which Yan defended and fought out of the clinch.
Sterling continued his striking pursuit in the championship rounds, trying to press and come forward, but Yan was still landing the crisper strikes when he did.
Yan, however, threw what appeared to be a sure victory away when he landed a knee while Sterling was grounded. Sterling was clearly hurt and unable to get back up, possibly concussed and the fight was called there.
Sterling won the belt in a horrifying fashion, with Yan allegedly throwing the knee because his corner said it was okay to kick.
A rematch is certainly coming in the future.