Petr Yan Wins Interim Bantamweight Title at UFC 267

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Petr Yan defeated Cory Sandhagen in the co-main event of UFC 267 to become the interim bantamweight champion. After current champion, Aljamain Sterling pulled out of the scheduled fight with Yan citing that his recovery from neck surgery hadn’t gone to schedule, Sandhagen stepped in to save the fight and compete for his first UFC title. Post-fight he said he didn’t feel that he’d done enough over the distance.

Champion, Sterling was clearly keeping an eye out on the bout. We don’t know for sure when the Sterling and Yan rematch will be, but we know that it will be a banger at bantamweight.

How the Fight Played Out

The first round saw Yan jog to the centre of the octagon and look to attack the legs of Sandhagen with Sandhagen mimicking the tactic. Sandhagen also looked to mix it up, adding in a wrestling transition to keep Yan guessing. Rather than countering straight away, Yan looked to shell up and catch Sandhagen’s strikes on his forearms and make the read.

The second opened up with Yan showing a much more active lead hand, attempting to distract the American. Yan attacked the body with brutal leg kicks, causing the body of Sandhagen to redden. The power was clearly on the side of the Russian, with the output being on the side of Sandhagen. What was clear is that Sandhagen looked to counter with two or three every time Yan landed on him. Another close round. Tatiana Suarez was clearly a fan:

The third round saw much of the same. Sandhagen’s footwork reduced slightly, with Yan landing far more frequently on him than in the first 10 minutes. A spinning back fist and a looping left hook saw Yan drop Sandhagen. The ground and pound almost finished it for the Russian, however, Sandahgen survived. When fighting back to his feet, Yan momentarily took the back of the American but he was able to again survive… just.

The fourth saw Sandhagen switched back on, he got back to his output, constantly keeping something in Yan’s face. The power of Yan was the equaliser, however. Whenever Yan landed on Sandhagen it appeared to affect the Sandman. On the other hand, when Sandhagen landed on Yan, although they scored, they didn’t deter the Russian at all. Sandhagen got a brief takedown but Yan threatened a leglock and was able to work back to his feet. A huge right hand from Yan saw Sandhagen again shoot but get stuffed.

Entering the final round, it was certainly close. Sandhagen again started well, going back to his slick footwork. His defence through the first two minutes of the final round was certainly improved. With that being said, Yan didn’t give Sandhagen a chance to rest. Sandhagen got back to pop-shotting Yan, however, Yan landed the biggest strike of the round, a big head kick. The American brushed it off and got back to his busy business. Another spinning back fist by Yan, a jumping knee by Sandhagen, a wheel kick by Yan and a further flying knee by Sandhagen saw out a phenomenal fight. The two men were so caught up in the fight they missed the horn for the end of the bout and wanted to continue throwing down. The referee jumped in and the two men embraced after a 25-minute war.

An instant classic to set up a fight with the champion, Sterling.

Elsewhere on the Card

Elsewhere on the stacked UFC 267 card, we had plenty to talk about. The preliminary card saw Tagir Ulanbekov continue his winning run in a close affair with Allan Nascimento. In a fight that saw a number of impressive ground transitions between the two men, Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s man, Ulanbekov got the win via split decision, 28–29, 29–28, 29–28.

Manchester’s Lerone Murphy rallied after a rough first round to score an extremely savage knockout of Finland’s Makwan Amirkhani. Following his corner advice to the letter, Murphy figured he wasn’t in danger when he was stood southpaw, but as soon as he switched to orthodox. Still undefeated at 11-0-1, Murphy landed a savage knee on Amirkhani, knocking him out instantly. The Brit is now 3-0-1 with two finishes in the UFC and deserves a top 15 fight next.

A truly shocking refereeing display overshadowed the bout between Benoit St Denis and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. Although dos Santos got the nod, the referee grabbed the headlines with an awful display, not stopping the fight when St Denis should have been saved to fight another day having taken a battering. Luckily, the referee, Vyacheslav Kiselev was consequently removed from the UFC 267 card.

Amanda Ribas got herself back into the win column following a tough first-round where she was dropped. Ribas rallied to progress to 11-2, outscoring Virna Jandiroba over 15 minutes.

Main Card

Magomed Ankalaev showed once against that he’s legit at 205lbs. He dominated former title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir over the 15 minute period, extending his winning run to seven.

Khamzat Chimaev continued to do Khamzat Chimaev things when he dominated Li Jingliang on his way to a first-round submission victory. Once again, Chimaev wouldn’t absorb a single strike on his way to victory.

Islam Makhachev gained the biggest win of his career when he submitted Dan Hooker by first-round kimura. In just 2:25, Makhachev yet again showed that he’s a problem at 155lbs and has catapulted himself into the title picture.

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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