UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan might be the most overlooked titleholder in professional sports right now. But that won’t last long for Yan, 28, from Russia, assuming the 135-pound menace can continue to get through all his biggest challenges as violently as possible.
Let’s just put it this way. They don’t call him “No Mercy” for no reason.
But Yan is just as brutal outside the cage as in it. Yan revealed to Heavy ahead of his first title defense at UFC 259 on March 6 at UFC APEX in Las Vegas that he actually considers all present and future bantamweight challengers as employees of sorts.
In other words, he’s not saying those other guys work for the UFC. He’s saying they work for him.
“They’re working for me. They are working on promoting me. Their job is to keep talking and to get extra attention,” Yan said through his manager and translator Sayat Abdrakhmanov.
In short, Yan is all about all these other bantamweights talking a bunch of noise the way Aljamain Sterling has done ahead of UFC 259 because it means the spotlight will be that much bigger and brighter for him when he beats them.
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‘No Mercy’ Yan Has Beat Everyone
Yan is coming off the most important win of his career. He defeated former featherweight champ Jose Aldo by fifth-round stoppage at UFC 251 to capture the vacant bantamweight title.
Yan (15-1) is now undefeated across all eight of his UFC fights, and he has ultimately beaten every single fighter he’s ever faced across all promotions.
Yan’s only loss was by split decision back in 2016 against Magomed Magomedov under the Absolute Championship Akhmat MMA promotional banner. But Yan avenged that setback the following year via unanimous decision.
So Yan has beaten everybody, and he doesn’t plan on that changing anytime soon.
Yan vs. Former UFC Champs on Horizon?
And Yan means everybody.
Assuming he defends his belt at UFC 259, the fighter said he’ll be ready for whatever the UFC has planned for him next.
Whether it’s any of the top contenders or popular ex-champions, Yan is ready.
Former champ T.J. Dillashaw is coming off his PED suspension, and the 35-year-old American hopes to get an immediate title shot vs Yan.
When asked whether Dillashaw deserves a crack at his crown, Yan said he wasn’t in the business of deciding who should be next. Rather, Yan is in the business of handing out beatings.
“It’s not up to me to decide who deserves what or not, but I don’t see it as good for him. Fighting me is going to be punishment for him,” Yan said.
As for retired UFC flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo, Yan expressed the idea that Cejudo is more about talking trash on social media than he is in actually making fights happen.
“People clown. He used to talk a lot. He keeps talking. He’s still talking, But real men prove themselves with action. But what he’s going to do? He’s just going to keep talking. That’s it,” Yan said.
Still, Yan would love to get that work.
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Yan Disagrees With Rival, Agrees With Bookies
Yan does know that Sterling’s style is completely different from the champ’s game. Sterling would be happy to grapple his way to the win whereas Yan is more about putting people’s lights out with his hands and feet.
Sterling has famously said all he’ll just need “one takedown” to win the fight, but Yan said he’ll be fine wherever the fight goes.
“I believe even if he takes me down, I will be okay on the ground. I will hold my own, and I’m ready for all aspects of the game,” Yan said.
Yan is adamant about it.
“I believe I’m a universal fighter, and I can fight him anywhere,” Yan said.
Still, Yan will enter the Octagon against Sterling somewhere close to even money on fight night. According to Best Fight Odds, it will be the first time in his UFC career that the Russian will be something other than a significant betting favorite.
DraftKings and FanDuel had both fighters priced at -110 on Thursday during fight week.
Yan said told Heavy he sees why the bookmakers would price the fight that way, but that he still expects to nab the victory.
“I can agree with the bookmakers. Both of us are very high-level and dangerous fighters. One mistake can decide the fight. For me to win, I just need to be myself, impose my will, and beat him,” Yan said.
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