Russia's Petr Yan FINISHES legend Jose Aldo to win bantamweight CHAMPIONSHIP title at UFC 251
Russia has a new UFC world champion after Petr Yan scored a huge finish of former featherweight champion Jose Aldo to claim the vacant bantamweight title at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi.
Yan finished a bloody war with legend Aldo by strikes when referee Leon Roberts eventually stepped in to save the former champ from further punishment in the fifth round.
Yan becomes only the second Russian fighter in history to win a UFC title after 155lb king Khabib Nurmagomedov, bringing his record to 15-1.
A battered and bloody Aldo was finally rescued from further punishment when Roberts waved the fight off with Yan raining down blows on the ex-featherweight ruler with just over a minute-and-a-half remaining of the final round.
But onlookers thought that Roberts let the 33-year-old veteran take too much punishment and should have waved the contest off before he finally brought a stop to proceedings.
Horrible ref job by Leon Roberts. Awful.— Heidi Fang (@HeidiFang) July 12, 2020
Terrible, horrible, inexcusable decision by referee Leon Roberts to allow Aldo to get pummeled that long with such hard shots. #UFC251— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) July 12, 2020
With the win, Yan extended his UFC unbeaten streak to seven victories, tied for the longest string of wins in the organization's bantamweight history.
It's taken those seven fights in the UFC for Yan to become champion, after victories over Teruto Ishihara, Jin Soo Son, Douglas Silva de Andrade, John Dodson, Jimmie Rivera and Urijah Faber earned him a shot at the vacant title on 'UFC Fight Island' on Saturday night.
And Yan didn't waste his chance, producing the biggest performance of his career in the biggest fight of his career to reach the bantamweight summit.
Yan had said earlier this week that it would be “huge” for Russia if he could join fellow countryman Khabib Nurmagomedov as a Russian UFC champion, and UFC President Dana White concurred.
“This is a global sport. Whenever we get a guy with a whole country behind them, it’s always a good thing, whether it's Russia, Brazil or anyone,” White told RT Sport before the fight.
Now that potential outcome has become a reality, with Yan joining Khabib as a Russian UFC world champion. Speaking after the win, Yan paid tribute to "legend" Aldo.
"I expected it to be a hard fight. He hit my leg and I was forced to change stance. It got me off my game a little bit," the 27-year-old said.
"It is a crazy situation in the world to prepare for this fight. The world was closed, but we worked hard to prepare. Aldo is a legend. I have only respect for him.
"In the beginning, I wanted to put pressure on him, make him tired and then start attacking after the third round. That’s exactly what happened. In the first and second round, he had hard punches and low kicks. I waited and pressured him. After the second round, I started to work. It was a good knockout. I liked it.
"My division has very tough fighters in the top five. The No. 1 contender is Aljamain Sterling. I will fight everyone. I like it, it’s my job."Also on rt.com 'It's a crazy time for me': Russian UFC bantamweight Petr Yan on Fight Island title shot vs Aldo (VIDEO)