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Russia’s UFC Bantamweight Champ Yan hints on title defense bout against Sterling of US

Aljamain ‘Funk Master’ Sterling, 31, holds a record of 19 wins (two by KO/TKO, eight by submission and nine by decision) and three defeats

MOSCOW, September 17. /TASS/. Russia’s new UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Champion in bantamweight division Petr Yan told journalists on Thursday that he planned to defend his title during the UFC New Year holidays’ tournament against Aljamain Sterling of the United States.

"The UFC is planning a grand tournament for the New Year holidays," Yan said during an on-line news conference on Thursday. "I am planning to hold a fight during this tournament."

"My most possible opponent is Aljamain Sterling as he has deserved a title bout," Yan added.

Aljamain ‘Funk Master’ Sterling, 31, holds a record of 19 wins (two by KO/TKO, eight by submission and nine by decision) and three defeats.

Yan also told journalists that he wanted to have a fight in Russia if there was such organizational option.

"If there is a scheduled tournament in Russia, I will certainly apply to take part in it," the Russian fighter stated.

Russia’s 27-year-old Yan, nicknamed ‘No Mercy,’ won the UFC Bantamweight World Champion’s title on the night of July 11 after defeating Brazil’s Jose ‘Junior’ Aldo with a technical knockout in the 5th round.

The fight was held as part of the UFC-251 tournament, which was organized on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, and the location was also dubbed as the ‘Fight Island.’

The UFC-251 tournament was initially scheduled to run at Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, on June 6, but was postponed several times due to the global spread of the novel coronavirus. In response to the global pandemic, UFC President Dana White announced in early May that the location of the prestigious mixed martial arts tournament would be shifted to a private island, namely to Yas Island.

Russia’s Yan from the Urals city of Yekaterinburg has a record of 15 wins (seven by KO/TKO, one by submission and seven by decision) and one defeat. The UFC bantamweight title became vacant after American MMA fighter Henry Cejudo ended his career. The Olympic champion made this decision in May after defeating American Dominick Cruz.

Yan is the second Russian to win the UFC Champion’s belt. Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov, hailing from Dagestan, has been retaining the UFC Lightweight Champion title since April 2018 and boasts an unblemished record of 28 wins in all of his mixed martial arts fights (8 by KOs, 10 by submission and 10 by decision).