UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping thinks Aljamain Sterling is in for a long night at UFC 273 if he can’t get Petr Yan down to the mat.
Sterling, the UFC bantamweight champion, rematches interim champ Yan in Saturday’s UFC 273 co-main event, which takes place at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.
Their first fight in March 2021 ended abruptly after Yan struck Sterling with an illegal knee to lose his title to Sterling by disqualification. However, leading up to the end of Round 4, Yan was starting to takeover, landing one knockdown and seven takedowns.
In Bisping’s opinion, Sterling (20-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) needs to get the fight on the ground if he is to have any chance against Yan (16-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC).
“I think Petr Yan goes out there, dominates the fight and gets it done,” Bisping told BT Sport. “I really do. I think Aljo might have a little bit of success early, but then when Petr Yan starts to land shots, I think it’s going to have a mental effect on Aljamain. It’s going to bring him back to the first fight. It’s going to send some reminders that perhaps Petr Yan is better than him.”
He continued, “For Aljo, it’s trying to grapple him and take him down. If he can’t do that, he’s forced to stand with him. And if he’s forced to stand, he’s going to get finished.”
Bisping thinks Sterling will need to change up his strategy from the first fight and adopt a heavy wrestling game plan from the start.
“He’s gonna have to have a very different approach because he never really had an answer for Petr Yan the first time,” Bisping said. “He was getting kind of out-hustled in all the positions, and there’s a reason why he was on his knees because he was getting beat around the octagon.
“I think Aljamain has to wrestle him in this fight. There’s a lot on the line for Aljamain Sterling. It’s not just about becoming champion of the world, it’s getting the respect back because he has been mocked by a lot of people, by a lot of the hardcore MMA fans, by Petr Yan, by most people on Petr Yan’s side.”