Aljamain Sterling became the UFC’s new bantamweight champion tonight at UFC 259, but not in the manner he had hoped after being struck by an illegal knee by Petr Yan that led to his opponent being disqualified.
Sterling with a quick body kick. He lands a front kick to the body. Now an oblique kick. Another body kick attempt from him. Now a calf kick while slightly off-balance.
Yan misses with an overhand. Busy start from Sterling as he continues working kicks and punches. Jumping knee from Sterling at least partially lands.
Continual pressure from Sterling here. Heavy kick from Yan. Sterling with more strikes as Yan covers up. Yan catches a kick and trips Sterling to the mat. He lets him back up.
Flying knee from Sterling again. He tries for a takdown and Yan defends it well. Undeterred, Sterling goes for a takedown again and lands it.
Yan back to his feet and he manages to move around to Sterling’s back in the clinch. Sterling turns into him and then moves away.
Right hand from Yan and it floors Sterling. Sterling back up and will have to get his bearings back. Leg kick from Yan takes Sterling off his feet. He gets back up.
At close range Yan works a takedown and Sterling is looking for a submission. Yan back to his feet. Again it’s Yan who initiates a takedown and lamost dumped Sterling on his head there. Sterling scrambles and drives back up looking for his own takedown, then opts for a flurry of strikes to end the round.
leg kick for Sterling. Now a right hand and clinches, but then steps away from that. Hard body kick for Sterling. he pumps out the jab. Yan fires off a left hand but misses. Sterling off-balance and falls to the mat. Yan stays upright and kicks to his legs.
The ref stands him back up. Left hand for Sterling. Now he goes to the body and works on a single leg. he falls to his butt and then tries to readjust and go back to the takedown. Yan sprawls on top of him though.
Sterling drives back up and works for the takedown against the cage. Yan defending for now and landing some punches to the body. Sterling almost drags Yan down, but he stays up. Sterling with strikes into another takedown attempt against the cage.
Sterling trying hard for this single-leg, but Yan’s doing well to keep up for now and works a few punches to the body.
Good knee to the head from Yan as Sterling was hunched over. Sterling tried a trip, but Yan denies it. Sterling back to the active striking game. Yan fires back. Sterling punches through Yan’s guard. He lands elbows too now. However, Yan clinches up and works for a takedown, then upright again he works around to Sterling’s back and lands a few knees to the back of the leg to end the round.
Body kick for Sterling. Low inside leg kick from Yan. Triple jab for Sterling. left hook from Yan. Sterling fires back.
Body punch and a knee to the body from Sterling. Knee to the head from Yan. Body punch for the champion. Yan almost loses his balance as Sterling comes in, but stays upright. Sterling with a cup that strays to the cup, but Yan is ok to continue.
Sterling works the jab. Body kick for Yan. One in return from Sterling. Nice jab for Yan. Now it’s Yan who is pressuring. He lands a hook. Sterling works to the body as Yan is covering up.
Right hand for Yan. Sterling avoids the follow-up blows. Nice trip takedown for Yan in the center of the Octagon, but opts to just get him to stand up again.
Straight right for Yan. Reaching punch for Sterling and then into the clinch. He fails on a takedown attempt and as he moves away Yan fires off a head kick.
Sterling goes straight back into a takedown attempt against the cage. Sterling trying hard for that, but doesn’t get it and Yan shrugs him off.
Yan trips Sterling to the mat again. He stands over him and lands a heavy leg kick. Sterling ordered to stand back up.
light punches from yan. Sterling with a head kick attempt that’s blocked. Sterling down to a knee after a failed takedown and Yan thinks about a choke, then opts to try for a head kick instead as Sterling stands.
Leg kicks for Sterling. Another lands nicely. Calf kick for Yan. Yan misses with punches but then clinches to Sterling’s back and gets him down as the round ends.
Kick from Sterling is checked. Sterling goes upstairs with a head kick that’s blocked. Yan catches a leg and dumps him to the mat. Yan still not willing to engage Sterling’s guard and instead stands over him. Sterling gets up and eats a knee to the body.
Yan covers up and Sterling lands to the body. Leg kick for Yan. Sterling with a leg kick too. Punches from Sterling come off the guard. Exchange of punches in close, but neither lands cleanly.
Nice left hand for Yan. Powerful body kick from Yan. Now a chopping right hand. Sterling clinches up and drives Yan to the cage. Yan reverses the position and then leaves with a spinning elbow attempt.
Yan gets the back clinch briefly and throws strikes.
Sterling tries to strike, but Yan lands a flurry on the counter. left hand for Yan. He tries for the trip takedown and doesn’t get it this time.
Leg kick for Sterling. Now a left hand. Solid right for Yan. Sharp straight left for Yan. Now a knee upstairs. Sterling complained he’d been poked to the eye, but ref tells him to fight on.
Solid knee from Yan. Now a powerful one-two. Body punch for a tiring Sterling. head kick attempt from the challenger.
Sterling with another head kick attempt that partially got through. Yan stuffs a takedown, but then as Sterling is still down on one knee, Yan hits him with an illegal knee to the head that forces a stoppage.
This is a huge moment in the fight as if Sterling says he can’t continue then this fight will be over and Sterling will be the new champion!
Sterling looks dazed and is in no rush to get back up. That’s it, the fight is over – the doctor has decided Sterling can’t continue!
Sterling goes to his knees and cries. It’s offical, Yan has been disqualified at 4.29mins of the fourth round due to an illegal knee and that means Sterling is the new champion. Sterling still a bit unsteady on his legs and appears not to be happy with having won the title this way, to the extent that he takes the belt back off and dumps it on the Octagon floor. What a crazy end to the first title fight of the evening!