UFC 259 features Amanda Nunes dominance, a shocking DQ for Petr Yan and more
There were three belts up for grabs at UFC 259 on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
And while the matchups might not have been that scintillating on paper, at least according to the sportsbooks, there was plenty of drama to be had.
But as they entered the final 30 seconds of the fourth round, Yan floored Sterling with a brutal, and very illegal, knee to the head.
After the ringside doctor examined Sterling, he ruled that the fighter could not continue.
Then, after referee Mark Smith ruled the knee intentional, Yan was disqualified and Sterling ruled the undisputed bantamweight champ.
The unfortunate thing for Yan? He was winning on two of the three cards at the time, and was also dominating the fourth round.
Sterling has now won six straight bouts to improve to 20-3 and 12-3 in UFC, while Yan dropped to 15-2. It was the first time a UFC belt had ever changed hands due to a disqualification.
Reaction on social media following the match was mixed, with some expressing shock and others perplexed at the actions of Yan, who is not known for bending the rules in the octagon.
At one point, #damnyan was even trending on Twitter.
As for Sterling, he was emotional in his post-bout interview with Joe Rogan, saying that this wasn’t his ideal way to win a belt.
"I thought the fight was very close. I thought I was down two rounds," he said. "That’s not the way I wanted to win, that’s not the way I envisioned this."
Sterling said he tried to continue the fight, but that he was in bad shape and it would have just been ego taking over just "to get further punishment," if he had kept fighting. He did, however, promise a rematch.
Yan apologized to Sterling after the bout, calling his illegal knee a "big mistake."
In other top action on Saturday night, Amanda Nunes wasted little time defending her title, dispatching Megan Anderson by submission due to an Arm Bar at 2:03 of the first round.
Nunes, who is widely considered to be the greatest female fighter of all time, improved to 21-4 in MMA, 14-1 in UFC, while Anderson dropped to 10-5 and 3-3.
This was a featherweight title bout, but Nunes also holds the bantamweight belt, as well as a 12-fight winning streak that includes Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg and Valentina Shevchenko among her victims.
"The lion is always dangerous," said Nunes, who recently became a parent with her partner Nina Ansaroff. "But when she has a baby, nobody can stop her."
In the nightcap, Jan Blachowicz held onto his light heavyweight belt by winning a unanimous decision over Israel Adesanya.
Adesanya, who holds the middleweight title, was looking to add a second for the trophy case by moving up in weight. He did not make it easy on Blachowicz either, who ultimately was too tough to handle.
After the bout, Adesanya said he had no regrets, emphasizing that you have to take chances in life in order to be considered great.
"It didn't go exactly the way that I wanted it to go," he said, "but you know, dare to be great.
And while his greatness will be at matter of opinion for now, Adesanya did garner a lot of respect for making the attempt.