The UFC 267 co-main event witnessed the crowning of an interim bantamweight champion when the #1 rated, Petr Yan, outclassed the #3 rated, Cory Sandhagen, on the feet over the course of five-rounds to earn a unanimous decision. Yan started slow, but once he turned it on, he never relinquished control of the fight. Gold is back around Petr’s waist, and it’s almost as if he never lost his title in the first place. Will he rematch Aljamain Sterling to unify the belts, or will he move on and face someone else?
A high-level chess match broke out right away between these world-class athletes. Yan took the center and Sandhagen was content to use his footwork to dance along the outside. Sandhagen actually changed levels for a takedown, and moved to the back in the clinch, but Yan was able to fight it off and return to open space. Sandhagen started to pressure and back up Petr, being the more active fighter.
Sandhagen took the center of the cage to begin the second act. He was letting his hands go, attacking to the head and the body. Yan responded by upping his output and pressing forward. Sandhagen shot in for a takedown, but all it did for him was waste energy. We did get a fancy jump knee from Sandhagen, but Yan saw it coming and defended well.
The beginning to the third round was a bit clinical. Neither man was wanting to make a mistake. As we approached the midpoint, Yan started to unload a lot more. Sandhagen was utilizing his footwork, but Yan was able to track him down with a spinning backfist to left hook that dropped Cory. It didn’t take long for Sandhagen to recover, but Petr was all over him with punches, and made Cory work to get back to open space.
Yan pressed forward in the fourth, walking down Sandhagen and delivering smooth boxing combos. Sandhagen shot in and earned a takedown, but ran urgently scrambled back up to his feet. Petr then began peppering the body with hooks, and then went back upstairs with hammers. Sandhagen tried to get the fight to the floor, but Yan just didn’t want to be there.
Sandhagen seemed to be back in the fight in the final round, but Yan was still in control. Petr kept moving forward and throwing the heftier and more meaningful punches. The round ended with a bit of a brawl breaking out, which some of extended just a bit beyond the bell... all in love of course.