Petr Yan has been preparing for his UFC 267 fight with Cory Sandhagen in Anapa. Travel restrictions make it difficult for the former bantamweight champion to travel to Phuket so he has done his training camp in Russia.
Russia might have a reputation for being a cold country but the weather looked balmy when the UFC Countdown crew was in town. At one stage Yan announced that he needed to work on his tan before removing his t-shirt to bask in the sunshine.
He is still seething about the decision to declare Aljamain Sterling the winner after his illegal knee at UFC 259. That cost him his bantamweight belt and Yan accuses the American of exaggerating the effects of the blow,
“I was expecting him to get up so I decided to kick him with a knee but he didn’t want to get up. The blow wasn’t that tough, it was obvious that he overplayed. He portrayed that he got hit really hard.”
Illegal knee in round 4 by Petr Yan! ????#UFC259 pic.twitter.com/80voXid0Ch
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 7, 2021
While Sterling did not look too pleased to be crowned the bantamweight champion Yan feels he could have continued and the bout should have been ruled a no contest,
“His acting is his strong point. Because everybody understood it was done unintentionally it could have been considered a no contest.”
Yan will not be rematching Sterling in Abu Dhabi this weekend. The champion has a serious neck injury and in his place steps Cory Sandhagen.
An interim version of the belt will be on the line and nothing has been left to chance in the Russian’s preparation,
“We work with the maximum load on each training. Our sport is a tough one. Everyone understands that it’s meant for tough men.”
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The defeat to Sterling was the first of Yan’s UFC career and it snapped a ten fight winning streak for the 28 year old. He has assembled a team of coaches from across Russia and beyond to help him prepare for this weekend’s fight.
Yan knows that it would be a long way back if he suffered a second successive loss. Were Sandhagen to prevail this weekend that rematch to Sterling, who he was beating comfortably before the illegal knee, might never materialize.
In the UFC all fights are significant, particularly when there is a title on the line. But for Yan this is more important than most as he knows he must win if he wants the opportunity to avenge the only defeat of his UFC career.
Yan says losing is not an option and he has been working overtime to achieve his goal of becoming an undisputed UFC champion again,
“When you set yourself a goal you must achieve it. All the work that you have done will pay off.”