Team Aljamain Sterling is unbothered by Petr Yan and his threat of a run-in before Saturday night.
The upcoming rematch serves as the co-main event of UFC 273, where Sterling and Yan share the Octagon again for the bantamweight championship. Given how their first fight at UFC 259 ended, the rivalry between the ‘Funk Master’ and ‘No Mercy’ has only intensified, and that was on full display during their appearances at media day on Wednesday afternoon.
When asked what would happen if he ran into Sterling ahead of the fight, Yan sent a stern warning to him and his whole team.
“If we see his team, we kill every team,” said Yan (video provided by MMA Fighting). “Right now, not Saturday.”
Though very tempted to call his bluff, Sterling told assembled media he doubts anything would happen if he ran into Yan. He chalked those comments up to nothing more than pre-fight build-up, so the likelihood of a run-in is slim to none.
If something were to happen though, the Serra-Longo Fight Team product would be ready.
“I have not seen him, but I honestly kind of want to see him just to see what would happen,” said Sterling. “I mean, I’m calm, cool [and] collected, so I go for the energy he’s going to bring. If he thinks it’s going to be on, then I’m ready. I’m more than ready. I’m ready now, I’m ready Saturday, so if you really want to do something, I’m right here. I’m in the same hotel as you. You could find me. If you want, I can give you my room number.
“It is what it is,” continued Sterling. “I think he’s just talking s—t. It’s cool.”
Al Iaquinta and Merab Dvalishvili — teammates and cornermen of Sterling — were also doubtful that Yan would follow through with his threat. Iaquinta wondered why the teams were being dragged into their beef anyway and advised Yan to focus solely on Sterling.
“He’s not going to do anything,” Iaquinta told Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie. “The fight’s on Saturday night and he’s got a lot to worry about. I think he should leave the teams out of it.
“Bad idea. Aljo’s doing his thing on Saturday night. Good luck.”
Dvalishvili had no interest in engaging with Yan, explaining that he was respectful after seeing him and his team earlier that morning to avoid any conflict.
However, once Sterling defeats Yan, ’The Machine’ would be more than happy to address the Russian and his team afterward.
“He made a big mistake when he said that,” said Dvalishvili. “Aljo will show him, Aljo will finish him and after he fights, we’ll beat him after. We’re going to let him fight first, then we’re going to take care of him and his team after. No problem, man.”
UFC 273 takes place on Saturday, April 9, at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.