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Petr Yan enjoyed a rapid ride to the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s bantamweight division. The question now becomes whether or not he can stay there.
Yan will put a 10-fight winning streak on the line when he defends his 135-pound title against Aljamain Sterling as part of a championship tripleheader atop UFC 259 this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The 28-year-old Dudinka, Russia, native has compiled a perfect 7-0 record since he joined the UFC roster as a ballyhooed blue-chip prospect in 2018. Yan last competed at UFC 251 in July, when he buried Jose Aldo with an avalanche of fifth-round punches to capture the vacant bantamweight crown.
As Yan marches toward his showdown with Sterling, a look at five things you might not know about him:
1. He keeps some of his well-rounded skills hidden.
Yan holds the Master of Sport designation in boxing and mixed martial arts. While known more for his standup exploits, he has other rarely seen skills at his disposal. Yan submitted Haron Orzumiev with a guillotine choke in his third professional appearance back in 2015. It remains the only submission win of his 16-fight career.
2. He answers adversity.
Yan suffered his only professional defeat to a then-unbeaten Magomed Magomedov in March 2016, losing a split decision in a five-round battle for the vacant Absolute Championship Berkut bantamweight title. They met for a second time a little more than a year later, as Yan walked away with a unanimous decision in their rematch. Magomedov has not lost since and now carries a 17-1 record.
3. Few have walked in his shoes.
Yan is one of six men who have held the undisputed UFC bantamweight championship. Dominick Cruz, Renan Barao, T.J. Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt and Henry Cejudo are the others.
4. His pace breaks people.
Yan has landed 284 more significant strikes than the opposition through seven UFC appearances, connecting with 585 of them. There was one anomaly: Jimmie Rivera. The former Cage Fury Fighting Championships, King of the Cage and Ring of Combat titleholder outlanded Yan by a 73-56 margin but still wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision at UFC 238 in 2019.
5. Statistics support his superiority.
Yan’s striking differential (3.07) places him first on the UFC’s all-time list among bantamweights. He also ranks second in knockdown average (1.3), third in knockdowns (eight), fourth in strikes landed per minute (6.32) and takedown defense (88%), sixth in significant strike accuracy (50.8%), eighth in significant strikes landed (585) and ninth in total strikes landed (725).