Aljamain Sterling has become quite familiar with Petr Yan.
UFC 280 is set to act as the promotion’s big return to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Oct. 22, 2022, and the co-main event will see Sterling attempt to make a second successful Bantamweight title defense. Earlier in the night, two divisional contenders will also be colliding when the former champion, Petr Yan, welcomes Sean O’Malley to the land of the elite.
“Funkmaster” won the title off Yan in March 2021 and is now moving on after most recently defeating “No Mercy” a second straight time in their April 2022 rematch (watch highlights). With his focus set on the next challenger, T.J. Dillashaw, Sterling doesn’t really care for Yan-O’Malley, but still offered up some advice for the No. 10-ranked contender.
“I don’t give a s—t who wins that fight, I really don’t,” Sterling told The Schmo. “But if there’s a piece of advice I could give to O’Malley, it’s footwork frustrates Yan. He has a hard time tracking guys down who have good footwork and are not just gonna stand in front of him waiting for the kill shot. And using his range and try not to get hit to the body because I think he’s a little frail and a little soft around the midsection. So, try not to let Yan catch you with one of those straights cause I’m telling you, they don’t feel too good.”
For Sterling’s upcoming encounter with Dillashaw, he’ll look to prevent the former two-time champion from making history as only the second to hold a UFC title on three separate occasions alongside Randy Couture.
Sterling, 33, sees similarities in his last match-up to the next, therefore, his confidence is still as high as ever. Hearing the confidence of his opponent has only added to the fire just like with Yan, as well.
“Relatively the same,” Sterling said. “Both really good strikers, just a little bit different in their approach, one’s more a pressure fighter, can cut you off and land that big shot and then maybe flurry on you. One guy switches stances a lot and does a lot of shakes and pulls and tries to counterattack you that way. Relatively the same.
“I mean, he thinks he can outwrestle me, he thinks my style’s an easy fight which I really don’t understand what he’s talking about,” he continued. “But I hope he keeps that same energy cause it’s gonna make my night that much easier. Keep thinking that way, T.J., and we’ll see what your D-1 grappling is like against D-3.”