The long-awaited rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan finally took place at UFC 273 in Jacksonville, Florida. The first fight in March of 2021 ended in controversy as Petr Yan hit Sterling with an illegal knee which resulted in Yan being disqualified and Sterling as the Champion.
For 13 months, Sterling was criticized and often referred to as a “Paper Champion” by many fans online. He had the opportunity to silence the doubters and legitimize himself as a Champion in the rematch against Yan and that's what he did. Going into the first fight at UFC 259, the Verdict Community was split at a 50/50 on who they predicted to win. The data headed into the rematch was much different, as 85% of the community predicted Yan to defeat Sterling.
You can attribute the community’s confidence in Yan heading into the rematch to how the first fight played out. Prior to the disqualification, Yan was in full control of the fight prior to the illegal knee and was cruising to a win.
For 13 months, Sterling has been saying that the person that fought Yan in the first fight was the worst version of him. Many believed that Sterling was just trying to hype up the rematch when he said that, but he showed at UFC 273 that he was indeed right.
Sterling won a close split decision against Petr Yan at UFC 273, legitimizing himself as a true Champion. However, the rematch still had controversy as many including UFC President Dana White scored the fight in favor of Petr Yan.
This was the closest title fight in the history of Verdict, with Sterling having a higher final score with a differential of 0.01. Yan won more rounds on the Verdict Scorecard but Sterling had a higher final score. That’s because winning dominant rounds carry more weight than winning marginal rounds on the Verdict Scorecard. Rounds 2 and 3 were the most impactful rounds of the fight, as many members of the Verdict Community scored those rounds a 10-8 in favor of Sterling.
The fight ultimately came down to the 1st round in the eyes of the judges, which was also the closest round on the Verdict Scorecard with Yan edging it out with a differential of 0.47.
Now that Sterling has defeated Yan, he has his eyes set on former Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw for his next title defense.