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Khabib hoping Yan dethrones Sterling, ‘that’s the way it should be’

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Former UFC great Khabib Nurmagomedov didn’t like the ending to Petr Yan vs. Aljimain Sterling.

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UFC 259: Petr Yan v Aljamain Sterling
Aljamain Sterling after his DQ win over Petr Yan at UFC 259.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Since retiring atop the pile of the UFC lightweight division Khabib Nurmagomedov has been a lot chattier than we might have expected. In a number of interviews now ‘The Eagle’ has revealed some interesting details regarding both his time in the cage and his opinions on the sport as a whole.

In a recent interview with UFC Russia Nurmagomedov touched on a whole host of subjects including Dana White’s relentless push to bring him back and how being a UFC champ felt like an addiction.

During that interview Nurmagomedov also touched on what happened to another Russian former UFC champion: Petr Yan.

Yan won the UFC bantamweight crown with a win over Jose Aldo at UFC 251 last July. This March—at UFC 259—he had his first title defense, versus Aljamain Sterling.

That fight ended in the fourth round after Yan landed an illegal knee to the head of a grounded Sterling. The blow rocked Sterling and he was unable to continue. The strike was deemed intentional by the referee, which lead to Yan being disqualified and Sterling winning the 135 lb title.

Nurmagomedov is clearly not satisfied with how that fight ended. He said he also wouldn’t be satisfied if that was how he won a UFC championship belt.

“Well, I would not prefer to become a champion the way Sterling did,” he said (ht MMAnews). I think he understands it, and his people do, but they try to support him, and I understand them. I would not like to be the champion who almost lost and won his belt just because his opponent broke the rules. I don’t want to judge anyone, but I would not [want] things to be this way.”

After those comments on Sterling, the Dagestani turned his attention to Yan. When doing so, Nurmagomedov certainly made it obvious whose corner he would be in if that fight comes back around.

“Yes, [Yan] made a huge mistake. It cost him the belt. Anyway, if Petr properly does his homework, he will benefit a lot from this. First of all, he needs to continue his training process and to stay hungry and focused. I think he will be given a fight this year, or even a rematch, and he deserves it. Anyways, I think he needs it, and it will help him a lot. I hope he finds a way to use it for his own advantage. We will see it when he gets a rematch and will take the belt. I think that’s the way it should be. Just like in a good Turkish TV show, there is always a happy end.”

Though it has not been made official, it is expected that Yan will receive an immediate rematch versus Sterling. However, with Sterling currently recovering from neck surgery, there’s no telling when that will happen.