UFC interim champ Petr Yan: ‘I have a belt, and it says everything’

UFC champion once again, albeit of the interim variety, Petr Yan chose not to bother arguing about his position in the bantamweight pecking order.

After all, a belt is a belt, and Yan displayed it proudly on the table in front of him at the UFC 267 post-fight news conference.

“As you see, I have a belt, and it says everything,” Yan (16-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) told reporters through an interpreter following his win over Cory Sandhagen (14-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in Abu Dhabi. “I’m not going to praise myself sitting here.”

Truthfully, he didn’t need to. While he was a little slow to start the night, Yan was fantastic over the final four frames, walking away with 49-46 scores across the board. It wasn’t entirely one-way action, with Sandhagen landing his share of strikes along the way.

Still, Yan’s were clearly the more powerful blows, and he said he was never truly in trouble in the cage.

“He didn’t hurt me, but I have a couple of bruises on my head,” Yan said.

Despite the victory – and the belt – Yan didn’t seem completely satisfied with the win. However, he said the fan praise of his performance made him feel a bit more satisfied.

“I’m a little bit feeling empty emotionally after the fight,” he said. “Of course, if fans consider it a great fight, I’m happy.”

Now an interim champ, the logical next move is a rematch with reigning champion Aljamain Sterling. Prior to UFC 267, Yan said he isn’t going to go chasing the fight despite the tense history between the two.

Post-fight, he kept that same energy, mentioning T.J. Dillashaw was also a possibility for his next move. Sterling’s health will likely determine how it all plays out, but Yan isn’t concerned with that. After all, the belt on the table said everything he didn’t feel the need to express.

Instead, he just chose to praise Sandhagen after an entertaining 25-minute clash.

“He’s a good guy, a good fighter,” Yan said. “As you noticed before the fight, we didn’t talk trash to each other. Respect was mutual, you know? I respect him as human being and as a fighter.”

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