Petr Yan lost his UFC bantamweight title last weekend when he hit Aljamain Sterling with an illegal knee in the fourth round of the fight at UFC 259.
Petr Yan was ahead on the judges’ scorecards and was on his way to winning the fight had Aljamain’s output had dropped significantly in the fourth round and Petr Yan was hitting him with clean punches.
However, in the fourth round, while Aljamain Sterling was on his knees, Petr Yan landed a hard knee to his face, which dropped the ‘Funk Master’ and left him concussed.
The knee was so brutal that, Aljamain Sterling couldn’t even stand up on his own while Bruce Buffers was announcing the winner. Many fans and fighters alike questioned Petr Yan’s decision to land the illegal knee and in the fight and Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was seated cageside said that he heard Yan’s corner telling him to land the knee in Russian.
Petr Yan’s corner didn’t tell him to knee Aljamain Sterling
Marcos DaMatta who is also Yan’s coach said that he never told him to knee Sterling and neither did the other Russian speaking cornerman. They told Petr Yan to hit Sterling and not knee him.
“The fourth round was going exactly what we expected,” DaMatta told MMA Junkie in an interview. “Aljo was fading, shooting from far, and we ended up in that situation which was kind of like the front head lock and we were extensively working on that. My two cents on that situation is that I was telling him keep pushing the head down and just punch, punch, punch, because he would have done the same thing he did to Jose Aldo, which was spinning to the back and working his ground-and-pound from there, or just release and stand back up to try and knock him out. When Petr got in that situation, I was actually pretty happy that happened because that was a sign that Aljo was completely helpless.
“And I was pretty vocal saying ‘just punch, just punch, just punch.’ I don’t know if the two cornermen behind me said to kick or to knee. I don’t believe so. We spoke about that after the fight, and they both said that they said ‘hit him’ in Russian. I don’t know who said they advised him to kick or to knee. I believe it was Khabib telling DC, but again, Khabib wasn’t in the commentating booth. He was just around. I don’t know if he might have gotten confused. I don’t know what happened. I don’t understand Russian very well. … I have no idea what they were saying. I know what I was saying. I know what I wanted him to do, which was pretty much push the head down and just punch. Maybe a TKO would have happened then.”