By NAN Sports Editor
News Americas, LAS VEGAS, NV, Tues. March. 9, 2021: A Caribbean American fighter has been declared the new UFC bantamweight champion after his challenger was disqualified in Las Vegas over the weekend.
Jamaican American Aljamain Sterling was declared the champion after challenger Petr Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee in a fight Saturday night, March 6, 2021.
Sterling (20-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) became the first fighter in UFC history to earn a championship due to disqualification. The drama occurred as the clock ticked down in Round 4.With Sterling clearly down on a knee after a failed takedown attempt, referee Mark Smith warned Yan of his opponent’s downed status. But despite the referee’s warning, Yan delivered a knee straight to the head of Sterling.
Sterling was then declared the winner as Yan was disqualified. UFC president Dana White then wrapped the belt around Sterling’s waist but he dropped it to the mat, disappointed and teary eyed.
After the official decision, an upset and emotional Sterling briefly interviewed with UFC commentator Joe Rogan. He apologized before medical staff cut his interview short for examination.
“That’s not the way I wanted to win. That’s not the way I envisioned this,” Sterling said. “I was trying to continue even being all f*cked up like that. I was in bad shape, and it would’ve just been ego taking over to take further punishment.”
With the victory, Sterling’s winning streak extends to six. Meanwhile, the loss is only Yan’s second of his career. His first also came in controversial fashion against current Bellator bantamweight Magomed Magomedov when the pair of Russians were in ACB.
The bantamweight title bout was part of the UFC 259 main card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
Sterling, 31, lives in Uniondale, NY and is a mixed martial artist.