A new star emerged on Saturday when Russian Petr Yan battered the legendary Jose Aldo and stopped him at 3:24 of the fifth round to win the vacant bantamweight championship in the first of three title fights at UFC 251 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Yan controlled most of the fight and nearly finished Aldo with a body shot while applying some ground-and-pound at the end of the first round.
Aldo turned the fight in his favor when he turned to his kicks in the second round. At one point, he kicked Yan’s legs out from under him and dropped him. He also kicked Yan so hard in the second that Yan switched into a southpaw stance.
But Yan kept up the pressure, mixed his attack and hurt Aldo with several of his strikes in a high-intensity bout in which both set personal bests for strikes landed.
“Our plan was in the beginning to put pressure on him and make him tired, and after the third round, start attacking,” Yan said. “That is what happened.”
Referee Leon Roberts allowed Aldo to take a tremendous amount of punishment in the waning seconds of the fight. A Yan combination hurt Aldo and forced him to back into the ropes. He went down and Yan was all over him.
Roberts kept shouting at Aldo to fight back, but he was unable to do anything to slow the younger and more aggressive Yan from pounding on him. Aldo was bleeding for several facial cuts and wasn’t doing anything but absorbing punishment.
Finally, at 3:24, Roberts mercifully stopped him and Yan leaped into his cornermen’s arms as Aldo lay face down in a pool of his own blood.
Petr Yan brutally and viciously stops Jose Aldo in round 5 on the ground to claim @ufc bantamweight crown at #UFC251 #FightIsland
Up to then a toe to toe stand up fight. Long assault on the ground might have been stopped sooner. pic.twitter.com/U0r9g8f6if
— Gareth A Davies (@GarethADaviesDT) July 12, 2020
Roberts’ failure to do his job aside, it was a crowning performance by the 27-year-old from Siberia, who in his last fight stopped Hall of Famer Urijah Faber. He won the title that Henry Cejudo vacated in May after defeating Dominick Cruz.
Yan is a boxer and showed power in both hands against Aldo. He put combinations together perfectly and hurt Aldo several times. Aldo was fortunate that the body shot near the end of the first came in the final 15 seconds. He was wincing in pain, but Yan didn’t have enough time.
Aldo looked like the Aldo of old in the second, but Yan showed the composure of a champion and came back strong in the third to turn the tide of his fight.
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