Russian UFC Star Petr Yan Slams Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling For Posing With Ukraine Flag Ahead Of Fight
Russian UFC star Petr Yan has laid into bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling for "trying to make it political" ahead of their title fight at UFC 273 this weekend.
The two meet for the second time inside the Octagon, competing in the co-main event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
But Yan is furious with the pre-match antics from his opponent, who posted a picture of himself and his teammates holding up the Ukraine flag in solidarity with the country, where 24,000 people have been killed following Russian president Vladimir Putin engineering a full-scale invasion.
The caption for the picture from Sterling was, "My team and I support Ukraine".
Speaking on the MMA Hour, the interim champion said: "Looking at his statements before, trying to make it political, using the flags, smiling, standing with the Ukrainian flag.
"He tried to make it political. Yeah, I thought he didn’t want me to be over here in the United States. Now that I’m here, he knows that it’s over for him.”
Yan, who still lives in Russia, has denounced the war quite publicly - posting "No to war" on Instagram of a picture with two hands together in the colours of the two Eastern European nations.
Because of tough sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, Yan has been dealt a major blow as his usual corner members cannot get visas.
Yan lost the first fight and handed over his title to Sterling after being disqualified for an illegal knee at UFC 259.
UFC legend and Yan's compatriot Khabib Nurmagomedov told long-time friend Daniel Cormier that he had been instructed by his team to deliver the strike.
He had been leading on two of the three scorecards before the fourth round stoppage, which led to the first instance of a title changing hands in UFC due to disqualification.
'No Mercy' became interim champion in October when he beat Cory Sandhagen via unanimous decision at UFC 267.
Featured Image Credit: Image: PA & Instagram
- UFC champion forced to vacate belt after suffering injury, he wanted to fight 'with one arm'
- Tim Tszyu doing 'primitive Russian training' in Thailand with 'killers' like Petr Yan
- Blockbuster heavyweight fight between Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones targeted for UFC 285 in Las Vegas
- Khabib's confused reaction to Sean O'Malley winning against Petr Yan sums up everyone's thoughts on the result