Ahead of his title fight against bantamweight champion Petr Yan at UFC 259, Aljamain Sterling conducted an exclusive interview with British sports outlet BT Sport. Upon being asked to share his thoughts on the back and forth with Petr Yan over the past few months, Funkmater said that the trash-talking shows the confidence each fighter has in his skills.
However, Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling each has a distinct advantage in striking and grappling, respectively. Sterling compared their fight with the lightweight matchup between Khabib and McGregor which had a similar element to it while adding that he is expecting a parallel outcome against Yan.
"I don't mind trash talking. I think Petr is the same. He doesn't mind it either because I think it's one of those things as more of gamesmanship and I think it's bragging right and it shows how mentally tough you are... because you've got to back up your words," Aljamain Sterling said.
"I think he possesses very good skills on the feet. I think I possess competent skills on the feet and very good skills on the mat. I think that's going to be the difference... it's that Yin and Yang. It's really like a Conor vs Khabib type of matchup where the 'fearless striker' who is so good and the guy who is dominant on the ground... Once he gets you down, he mauls. So I'm expecting to do the same," Aljamain Sterling said.
Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan are scheduled to fight on the main card of UFC 259: Blachowicz vs Adesanya on March 6, 2021.
How close is the fight between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan?
The fight between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan is the most compelling fight on the UFC 259 fight card. While Amanda Nunes and Israel Adesanya are clear favorites in their respective fights, the MMA community is split over the bantamweight phenoms.
The contest is a classic striker versus grappler affair, but both fighters have formidable defensive abilities in their opponent's area of expertise. Petr Yan is one of the best MMA boxers and boasts an 88% takedown defense to this point in his career. Aljamain Sterling is a dominant wrestler who has avoided 66% of the total significant strikes thrown at him. The betting odds do not favor either fighter as they are both -110 favorites heading into the fight.
A fight between a striker and a grappler is always susceptible to ending up one-sided in either direction unless both fighters have enough credentials in defending their opponent's area of expertise. We are just one day away from finding out how Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling deal with each other's styles and strengths on March 6.