The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight division becomes more intriguing with each new fight announcement.
Earlier this week (Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023), the promotion announced a big main event for March 11, 2023, UFC Vegas 71. Former champion, Petr Yan, is looking to bounce back from a two-fight losing streak. against the rising Georgian candidate, Merab Dvalishvili.
A victory for Dvalishvili would extend his current streak to nine wins after he last retired the legendary Jose Aldo via unanimous decision at UFC 278 in August 2022. The best friendship between reigning bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and Dvalishvili will be too difficult to put behind them for a potential fight. If ‘The Machine’ takes the win, however, it makes the tandem relatively undeniable at the top of the weight class, ‘Funk Master’ believes.
“Can Petr Yan make it 0-4? Is he your king? Sterling joked on his YouTube channel. “Don’t get me wrong, Yan is good. I know I’m sitting here joking in hindsight. Just imagine. He had a one-win layup where I went in like a skeletal shell of myself and a knee knocked the whole algorithm down. Because this guy didn’t know the rules. Come on man.
“We have two of the best guys in the world,” he concluded. “When Merab beats Petr Yan, we will both be clearly No. 1 and No. 2 in the world. It doesn’t happen.
Sterling is no stranger to Yan, having faced ‘No Mercy’ twice, the first occasion being his historic crowning achievement. Dvalishvili and Sterling act as each other’s main training partners for all sides, giving Dvalishvili good pre-planning for his next game.
“I think what he always does [gets Dvalishvili the win]”Sterling said. “Keep the pressure up, make sure he’s focused and composed for five rounds. On top of that, Yan does tricky things he’ll have to be careful of, and Yan has good hips. I think he spreads out so hard sometimes that it backfires. Some of those hitting combinations I was landing were because he was biting so hard on level changes that he was getting out of position where I could land those combinations.
“Yan is a game, a tough opponent,” he added. “But it’s going to be difficult for him to deal with.”
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