Aljamain Sterling embraces place atop UFC bantamweight division

Welcome to The Weekly Takedown, Sports Illustrated’s in-depth look at MMA. Every week, this column offers insight and information on the most noteworthy stories in the fight world.

Aljamain Sterling had known it for over a year.

He was powered by the belief that, by far, he was a better mixed martial artist than Petr Yan. He even possessed the bantamweight title–though winning it by disqualification was the absolute last way he wanted to be crowned champ. Compounding the matter is that Yan had dominated their UFC 259 bout in March of 2021, before connecting with a vicious, intentional knee to the skull, a blow that made Sterling champion via DQ.

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