There have been a number of publicized bouts involving the elite bantamweights division in the last few weeks, but Petr “No Mercy” Yan seems intent on fighting an opponent who is not currently ranked in the UFC. Check out the best bookmakers for betting on MMA!
While the division’s top contenders have been paired up, Yan wants a big fight after losing to Aljamain Sterling in April’s UFC 273 championship unification match. Sterling is scheduled to defend his title against T.J. Dillashaw at the upcoming UFC 279 in September. Cory Sandhagen and Song Yadong, as well as Marlon Vera and Dominick Cruz, are all set to face off against one another in that upcoming match.
Yan expresses his intention to fight Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo, a world-class fighter who has just returned to the USADA pool after ending his retirement.
“Hey Henry Cejudo, you talked a lot when you were ‘retired,’” the 29-year-old wrote. “Now it’s time to back it up.”
Few were surprised, though, when Cejudo accepted Yan’s dare and the two engaged in a Twitter spat.
“Only if you had the gold I would have loved to have buried,” Cejudo wrote.
Following his successful championship defense in May 2020 against Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, Cejudo announced his retirement, stressing a desire to be compensated fairly. UFC President Dana White made the announcement during the post-fight news conference that Yan will be challenging for the vacant title in his next fight.
Two months later, at UFC 251, Yan stopped José Aldo in the fifth round to win the bantamweight belt Cejudo had relinquished. However, his debut title defense terminated in debate when he improperly kneed challenger Sterling, leading to Sterling’s disqualification. In spite of his triumph over Sandhagen and the subsequent interim belt and championship chance at UFC 273, Yan was defeated by Sterling via split decision.
“The truth is you retired the day I became number 1 contender and unretired on the same day I ceased to be the champion. Now you ducking me again only proving those facts,” Yan replied.
Cejudo used the chance to attack the reigning bantamweight champion, Sterling, and bash Yan as well.
“You know I’m getting the title shoot next,” Cejudo wrote.
At age 35, Cejudo won the UFC flyweight title in 2018 and successfully defended it just before moving up to the challenge for the vacant bantamweight crown. After winning that belt and defending it once, he decided to retire because he didn’t like the UFC’s financial offer.
Cejudo has spent his retirement teaching boxing at his Scottsdale, Arizona gym. A number of current and previous champions, such as Jon Jones, Deiveson Figueiredo, Zhang Weili, Cris Cyborg, and more, have joined the roster of the 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medalist.
Speculation over the Olympic gold medalist’s return to the cage has been sparked by his recent readmission to the USADA testing pool to end Cejudo’s two years retirement. According to the UFC’s anti-doping protocol, fighters must undergo random drug testing for a minimum of six months before being reinstated into competition.
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