Ahead of his UFC debut, MMASucka highlighted Siberia’s Petr Yan (10-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) as perhaps the brightest bantamweight prospect in the sport today. Yan is a phenomenal athlete with no major technical gaps, his background in boxing has been complemented by the striking and grappling instruction at Tiger Muay Thai. “No Mercy” demonstrated his potential as an offensive tornado in his ACB title run.
By all accounts, Petr is an absolute workhorse in the gym and is constantly improving. Two fights into his UFC career, it seems appropriate to check in on Yan’s performances and highlight how his talents have translated to the world’s biggest stage.
Siberian gangster is here ?? pic.twitter.com/CJCWQ4nRlP
— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) June 22, 2018
Petr Yan Early UFC GIF Highlights and Analysis
-vs. Teruto Ishihara–
Teruto Ishihara turned heads with his flashy run through what was essentially the Japanese version of The Ultimate Fighter. After making the switch to Team Alpha Male, there seemed to be room for “Yashabo” to grow into a career UFC fighter. But like many at TAM, his progress hit a plateau.
On top of all of this, the UFC censored his ridiculous catchphrase. 1-3 in his last four fights, Ishihara was obviously a pawn to showcase Petr Yan, headlining the prelims.
Deficiencies aside, Ishihara is still a dangerous fighter who finds tricky ways to connect with wild haymakers. Yan began by applying steady pressure, advancing on Ishihara with short, quick steps.
Without throwing, Yan scared Ishihara into taking exaggerated evasive movements and kicking naked in an attempt to back him up.
After testing his reactions, Petr Yan observed that he could walk Ishihara into the cage at will. Once that had been established, he began to pop off short combinations. He could load up wide to the head, and nail a hook to the body as Ishihara circled off.
Ishihara began to drop his hands to deflect Yan’s shots. At one point he literally circled off with one hand up by his face, and the other hanging straight down almost behind his back.
Petr Yan has the capacity for a methodical striking approach. In ACB, Yan would engage his opponents in as many situations as possible early on, and make adjustments later. It’s what has made him an outstanding five-round fighter. But against Ishihara, his “feeling out” was much more intentional, and the changes developed in under one round.
Now Yan could back Ishihara to the cage, throw at will, and had him reacting to body shots.
Logically, he went upstairs. Yan’s feet moved faster, his punches came harder, and in greater numbers. He watched for Ishihara to circle with his hands down and nailed him with the second strike every time.
Petr Yan’s pace continued to increase, and his combinations got longer, the pressure did not let off. Ishihara was beginning to flounder, with no time to search for answers.
Just over halfway through the round, Yan leads with his first kick. Respect to Teruto Ishihara for seeing his moment, as he immediately looked to counter Yan kicking naked.
But he wasn’t there. Off the lead kick, Yan jabbed and dipped to his right and came back to his center with his right hand. Yan actually doubled up on the right hook, and began to fire off punches.
Staggered, Ishihara stopped his wobbly retreat to plant and counter. Yan blasted him.
Ishihara drunkenly scrambled for a leg to slow Yan down. But the Siberian gangster’s wrestling has improved dramatically, he spun in a complete circle around the drowning Ishihara while landing ground and pound.
When he did finally return to his feet, Yan broke the clinch with a spinning back fist (or forearm) and rattled Ishihara once again.
Back in striking range, Ishihara was completely vulnerable to a swarming Yan. Instinctively, Ishihara attempted to fire off straight punches that would keep distance between the two of them. Just like before, he planted to halt his retreat and threw a cross. The first time, Yan slipped beautifully and angled off.
The second time Yan hit a cross counter and smashed him.
Opportunities for Improvement
First of all, he did not sick the landing on that flip. Gymnastic abilities need work.
Otherwise, the only knock from this short bout was that Yan did briefly give up a takedown.
Petr Yan has a tendency to keep a high guard, so there may always be an opening for a powerful double from a large, athletic fighter. Ishihara makes exaggerated movements when he’s striking, moving, feinting, and shooting. That is probably why it took a second for Yan to decipher his intentions.
It is good to see him immediately scramble for position, pushing away on the head while moving his hips back. For a moment he reaches for Ishihara’s leg, it’s possible he was going to try and hit a switch, but it was a weird position.
-vs. Jin Soo Son–
FIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Yan was originally scheduled to fight Douglas Silva de Andrade at UFC Moscow, the organization’s debut in Russia. About one month from the event, he pulled out due to injury and was replaced by Jin Soo Son.
Son had faced decent opposition, going 9-2 over some established veterans of the Asian regional scene. What excited fans originally about Son was that he is a protege of the great Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung.
Now we know he is an indestructible maniac with a workable skill set, which is all the more exciting.
As indicated by its “Fight of the Night” status, this fight was packed with content and is worthy of being examined round by round.
For a short-notice, relatively inexperienced opponent, Son presented a few obstacles for Petr Yan. The first, and what became most obvious, is that Jin Soo Son has the craziest chin of all time, I assume it is made of mithril, or some other fictional metal. He ate everything Yan threw at him and smiled like a lunatic while doing it.
It is very tiring and discouraging hitting someone with everything you have, only to see your efforts energize them. The other issue is that Son is a big dude. He weighed in one pound over the bantamweight limit for the short-notice contest.
The eye test shows he is thickly muscled, but the proof is in Son competing with Yan’s notoriously brutish clinch game and holding dominant grappling positions for some time.
The takedown was very similar to what we saw in the Ishihara fight. Son timed Yan raising his arms on a double leg. As before, Yan immediately got to his base and worked to his feet. Son had success keeping Yan in place for some stretches, but could not generate any offense.
Like the early days of the Korean Zombie, Son seems to base his striking on reckless pressure and power shots. Time after time, Petr Yan was able to slip and duck punches, coming back up to catch clinch positions. Yan has leaned on his clinch game for years, demonstrating sharp, effective short offense from underhooks and collar ties.
On the lead, we saw a lot of familiar offense from Yan. He hopped up for left kicks, stepped through on long punches, and always moved his head.
Unlike the Ishihara fight, Yan did not have a methodical process for figuring out and breaking down Jin Soo Son. There was too little time to prepare for him specifically, and too little tape available. This is Yan engaging fully, and making adjustments based on what he feels.
Either Jin Soo Son has an excellent, explosive double leg and phenomenal timing, or Petr Yan was not prepared to defend that takedown for this fight. It can be both. Late in the second round, Son completely blew Yan off his feet.
As he has shown throughout his career, Yan is exceptionally difficult to hold down and kept his feet on the hips in guard. Most of Son’s attempts to pass were unsuccessful, and Yan never closed his guard. Yan caught Son making a lazy attempt at a back take and reversed position.
But for the majority of the round, Yan was catching Son’s entries with underhooks and absolutely lighting him up.
It makes perfect sense that Yan would shine in this fight landing quick, precise punches and playing matador. Douglas Silva de Andrade is the type to either walk you down and throw heat, or stand in place and throw heat. Yan was obviously prepared for that aspect of Son’s game in turn.
Even after an insane output in the first two rounds, Yan did not let up at all. In fact, he grew stronger. After conceding position at times earlier, Yan stopped every takedown from Jin Soo Son.
Son was punished even more severely for his efforts.
Jin Soo Son was finally wearing down. His offense dwindled, and he retaliated less and less. His maniac behavior did increase, perhaps he was trying to goad Yan into getting sloppy and attacking him outright. Or maybe he’s just a sick freak that loves getting hit. You be the judge.
I would deeply regret not highlighting two of the coolest moves of the year.
Yan took a deep penetration step outside of Son’s lead foot, and tossed him over his own leg for an outside trip of sorts. The entry is reminiscent of TJ Dillashaw‘s entries for doubles on John Lineker, or the fifth round takedown Rose Namajunas hit on Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Petr also brought us great joy by spinning off collar and tricep ties into a beautiful elbow. By my Sports Science approved metrics, the impact of that strike could decapitate a bull elephant.
I feel the need to explain that reference. Timestamped for your befuddlement.
Opportunities for Improvement
Petr Yan is a top boi in my book, but he’s not without flaws. Early in the fight Jin Soo Son suffered a deep, gross looking eye poke from moving into Yan’s outstretched hand.
Many MMA fighters train striking in big gloves. It’s only natural to form habits such as keeping your fingers out, or head tapping with an open hand. Nonetheless, it is something to work on reeling in. One option would be to go palm up, another would be to frame with a closed fist.
Joe Rogan, and others, will tell you it is time to redesign the gloves. For now, let’s place responsibility on the fighters to keep their fingers to themselves.
Otherwise, takedown defense continues to be a minor weak point.
All Aboard the Yan Warwagon
If you made it through this whole article, many thanks, and welcome to Petr Yan fandom. He is a rare unicorn in our sport, an ice-cold, high octane killer, but a sweet and innocent soul. His love for war in the cage and hunger for knowledge will make him a fan favorite for years to come.
What’s next? Yan has been going back and forth with John “F**king” Lineker on Twitter. That fight would be a massive step up, but a battle for the ages. I welcome it.
In the meantime, catch up on the rest of Yan’s thrilling career in Fighter of Interest: Petr Yan.