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The Co-Main event comes in the Bantamweight division, as Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling looks to defend his title in a rematch against Petr “No Mercy” Yan. Having been out of action for over a year, Sterling will return to the octagon for the first time since capturing the Bantamweight title due to a disqualification. A winner of six straight and eight of the last nine, Sterling has been on a tear. Unfortunately recency bias seems to have overshadowed Sterling’s dominance. Meanwhile, Yan comes into this fight having most recently defeated Cory Sandhagen for the Interim Bantamweight Championship. A fight that Yan looks sharp, showing off perhaps the best boxing in the UFC. The victory improved Yan’s UFC record to 8-1, with the lone loss coming via the disqualification against Sterling.

As for a prediction, I’ve got Sterling winning. While I may be among the few, and I understand why, I believe that Sterling is being overlooked here despite what the odds may indicate. A well rounded fighter, Sterling is dynamic on the feet and has excellent grappling abilities. With great cardio and comfortability wherever the fight goes, Sterling is championship material regardless of how he won the belt. The worry for me in this fight, isn’t necessarily if Sterling can get the fight to the mat. It’s if Sterling can go toe-to-toe with Yan on the feet for five rounds. Yan being an exceptional talent with boxing abilities that put even the best strikers to shame, is a hard out for any Bantamweight. Throw in his ability to wrestle and grapple, and he’s a walking nightmare.

The reason however that I’m siding with Sterling, is that I believe the first fight between the two spotlighted a very uncharacteristic Sterling. One who fought frantically and with reckless abandon, expending cardio at a rate that even his usual hard pace wasn’t accustomed to. It allowed Sterling to look vulnerable and very silly at times. Despite that, on the judges scorecards, Sterling won the second round on all three cards and even the first round on one of the judges scorecards. If Sterling could be more tempered, there is a real chance his wrestling and grappling could also be utilized in spots. It won’t be easy, as Yan has amazing takedown defense. However, if Sterling isn’t isn’t out there just diving, it’s very possible. While in the end there may not be a very good reason to go against an incredible talent like Yan, there just seems like an overwhelming amount of recency bias clouding Sterling’s abilities. So with that said, I predict that Sterling wins via decision.

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