It seems like Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan are destined to always have controversial fights.
In their first bout in 2021, Yan lost the bantamweight title when he hit Sterling with an illegal knee and was disqualified. Conventional wisdom says no one wants to win a championship on a disqualification, but Sterling became the titleholder nonetheless.
Once the two finally got a chance to meet again in the UFC 273 co-main event Saturday, they went the five-round distance. In a close fight, Sterling (21-3 MMA, 13-3 UFC) took a split decision from interim champ Yan (16-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) to unify the belts.
Sterling had stellar frames in Rounds 2 and 3 thanks to takedowns and a lot of ground control. Yan rallied in Rounds 4 and 5. But the split call – a pair of 48-47s for Sterling and a dissenting 48-47 for Yan – means there were close frames.
Take a look at how the judges broke things down.
Afterward, a frustrated Yan said he wants a third fight with Sterling, now the undisputed champion – and a champion who called for a fight with former titleholder T.J. Dillashaw, who was cageside.
“I want a rematch. I want a rematch. I won the first round. I won the second round. Four of five rounds, I won. I want a rematch,” Yan said after the fight.