Petr Yan made history for all the wrong reasons at UFC 259 by becoming the promotion’s first ever champion to lose his title by disqualification.
Yan was defending his bantamweight strap against Aljamain Sterling in Las Vegas on Saturday night and was ahead on two of the three judges’ scorecards when the fight moved into the fourth round.
The Russian seemed to be in full control, but he soon found himself disqualified for landing a bizarre illegal knee to the head of Sterling in the fourth.
With Sterling crouched to the ground, Yan unleashed a brutal knee that snapped his opponent’s head back and sent him tumbling to the floor.
Referee Mark Smith had warned him that the Jamaican-American was a downed fighter with at least one knee on the canvas, meaning his strike was considered a deliberate foul and worthy of disqualification.
Sterling stayed down for several minutes and was first examined by the ringside doctor before Smith decided he had no choice but to wave the contest off.
While Yan was undoubtedly disappointed to have thrown his title away, Sterling was equally devastated to have claimed his first in the UFC by disqualification.
He is the first fighter in the promotion’s history to become champion by DQ, an accolade he clearly doesn’t appreciate.
As it was wrapped around his waist Sterling refused to accept the title, immediately taking it off and throwing it to the ground.