A back and forth affair initially highlighted the matchup between bantamweight contender Petr Yan and former UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. In the end, however, Yan was looking to fulfill his destiny on a night where anything was possible.
At UFC 251 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, Yan (15-1) knocked down Aldo (28-7) in the fifth round for the TKO win. As a result, the Russian won the vacant UFC Bantamweight Title.
“In the beginning, I wanted to put pressure on him, make him tired, and then start attacking after the third round. That’s exactly what happened,” Yan stated after the fight. “In the first and second round, he had hard punches and low kicks. I waited and pressured him. After the second round, I started to work. It was a good knockout. I liked it.”
Both fighters were preparing for a calculating affair right as the opening bell rang. Yan started with leg kicks to the body and the head of Aldo. Aldo, however, who is well-known for his kicks, would try and chop down Yan. He would hit a midsection kick while Yan could counter with one of his own. Aldo ended up down on the floor while attempting to be in the guard position. Yan would then hit heavy shots as the round came to a close.
— UFC (@ufc) July 12, 2020
There was a look of concern for Aldo heading into round two as it appeared something was wrong with his ribs. He managed to fight through the pain as he hit body shots and low leg kicks. While Yan would hit heavy strikes, Aldo would ramp up the action with blows of his own. He ended up having a 21-14 advantage in strikes in the round as it came to a close.
Round three saw Aldo continue with leg kicks and uppercut shots. Yan, however, would hit a flurry of shots that would overwhelm Aldo. He hit a few head strikes and would land elbows in the clinch. It appeared to be the turning point in the fight.
Yan dominated with combination strikes as he was landing over 108 shots, a personal best. He was much more consistent with his blows. Aldo, on the other hand, would hit a few gut shots. That would not stop Yan from walking down the octagon and striking Aldo with everything that he had. A right hand after an uppercut had Aldo to the floor as he would strike the former featherweight while on his back.
The last round would be a repeat of the last few minutes of the fourth, as it was a dominating fifth by Yan. He pushed Aldo to the floor and isolated his arm to avoid any defense. Yan pounded away at the head of Aldo as the referee would not stop the fight. Following multiple hammer shots to the side of the head and Aldo bleeding all over, the referee finally called the fight off.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 12, 2020
RUSSIA HAS A NEW CHAMPION!
— UFC (@ufc) July 12, 2020
When Henry Cejdo retired and relinquished the UFC Bantamweight Title, the possibilities became endless. Even though he was out of the top five, Aldo ended up getting a title shot. Aldo is now on a three-fight losing streak and is 0-2 in the bantamweight division. He is also 2-5 in his last seven and 3-6 since losing to Conor McGregor in 2015.
Yan, who made his UFC debut in 2018, is now on a ten-fight win streak. He was the third-ranked bantamweight contender before this win.