Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling UFC 259 Odds, Pick & Prediction: Value on the Challenger in Bantamweight Title Fight (March 6)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Aljamain Sterling.
- The UFC Bantamweight Championship is on the line between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259.
- Yan makes his first title defense since winning the belt against Jose Aldo, while Sterling has won five straight.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down where he sees value on the challenger in the first of three title fights.
Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling Odds
UFC 259 features three title fights, and the most anticipated bout on the card is the bantamweight title matchup between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.
Not only is the fight close to a pick'em in the odds market, but these two highly-technical bantamweights create a perfect stylistic matchup that should lead to some beautiful violence on Saturday night.
Below, I break down the data, odds, and my analysis of "The People's Main Event" between Yan and Sterling, which will occur before Amanda Nunes' featherweight title defense and Israel Adesanya's pursuit of "Double Champ" status in the light heavyweight division.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||13:14||11:54|
|Weight (pounds)||135 lbs.||135 lbs.|
|Date of birth||2/11/93||7/31/89|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||6.32||4.82|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.25||1.94|
|Take Down Avg||1.46||1.89|
In terms of style base, Sterling is a wrestler and Yan is a pressure boxer, but we know much more about the development of Sterling's striking than we do Yan's grappling. As a result, Sterling is the man with more upside in this fight, relative to what we have seen to date in the UFC.
Since his knockout loss to Marlon Moraes in 2017, Sterling has won all 12 rounds that he's fought against extremely high-level competition, and he has arguably faced a better slate of opponents than Yan has lined up against to date.
"Aljo" outpaced both Pedro Munhoz (172-102) and Jimmie Rivera (77-17) from a distance by fairly wide margins, and my real concern on his side — beyond him getting knocked out again, of course — is his cardio, since this is his first five-round fight in the UFC.
Yan proved that he could manage his gas for five rounds against Jose Aldo, but he did sacrifice Round 2 of that fight (lost 24-16 on strikes and lost the round on all three scorecards) while eating a bunch of leg kicks to conserve his energy for later in the bout.
Sterling attempted an insane 349 significant strikes in that Munhoz fight while emptying the tank in Round 3 (137 attempts). If he's able to manage that output for five rounds while mixing in his wrestling against Yan, he could be well on his way to securing bantamweight gold on the scorecards, at worst.
The smaller cage at APEX should help the champion, though. Sterling will have less room to constantly maneuver and chip away from the outside than he would inside a 30-foot-cage. His 4-inch reach advantage should still be useful, and his jab should help keep Yan away from constantly digging at his body.
Sterling does keep his lead leg extended, within range to get chewed up by calf and low kicks, but Yan has preferred to throw punch combinations to the head and body rather than firing those kicks in volume.
If you see Yan firing at that calf early and often and landing, you may want to consider jumping in on the champion live. Those attacks will cut off Sterling's mobility pretty quickly and dramatically increase his chances of getting caught with some power shots in later exchanges.
But those kicks would represent a different game plan for Yan, who relies more on his boxing. Despite possessing the higher output on paper (+1.5 strikes landed per minute), I would give his opponent a better chance of winning the majority of minutes in this fight.
If Sterling can get Yan to the mat, his top control and body triangles are complicated to escape, and if Yan gives up his back, it could be game over. Sterling isn't a lethal submission artist, but his ability to turn himself into a backpack on his opponents is uncanny.
Yan vs. Sterling Pick
The challenger initially opened as a +125 underdog (implied 44.4%), but he has been bet down to a -110 pick'em (implied 52.4%) as of writing, and I agree with the line movement.
I projected Sterling as a 54% favorite and am willing to bank upon his likely advantages in output and his potential to dominate some grappling exchanges.
Yan may have the bigger moments in this fight and is far more likely to finish this matchup on the feet (Sterling hasn't recorded a knockdown in his UFC career), but this really looks like a tossup that may come down to the judges. Sterling's volume, in addition to a couple of takedowns, could put him over the top.
I have this fight ending inside the distance 55% of the time (implied odds of -123), so there is no value on the total relative to listed odds.
And while I wouldn't bet the moneyline where it currently sits, I'm still expecting to see a potential surge of Yan money come in closer to fight time, so if the Sterling side goes back to even money, I'll take a shot on his moneyline.
For now, I prefer Sterling's decision prop at +350 (implied 22.2%) at a 4.3% edge relative to my projection of +278 (implied 26.5%). You can bet down that down +326 at a 3% edge.
The Pick: Aljamain Sterling (+100) / Sterling to win by decision (+350)