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“It’s pretty easy, Yan,” Vera said recently on The MMA Hour. “He just has way better striking.”
Sterling and Yan are set to settle their rivalry this Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 273. The two bantamweights previously collided in March 2021 at UFC 259, with Sterling becoming the first fighter in UFC history to win a title by disqualification after an illegal knee strike from Yan in Round 4 rendered Sterling unable to continue. Yan was ahead on the scorecards at the time of the foul — a fact which has led to plenty of controversy.
Continued complications from neck surgery have kept Sterling on the shelf since his win, while Yan captured his interim strap in October with a decision over Cory Sandhagen.
With his own dance date with Rob Font looming, Vera will be an interested observer to the festivities at UFC 273. A win over Font on April 30 and Vera will climb within shouting distance of title contention. That means the winner of Sterling vs. Yan 2 could soon be in his sights.
And with Yan slated as high as a 5-to-1 favorite to exact his revenge against Sterling on several online sportsbooks, Vera can’t help but think the oddsmakers have it right.
“That’s the thing with MMA, sometimes you don’t need to be Israel Adesanya to win a fight,” Vera said. “MMA, the speed is different, the range is different. You can f****** throw three hooks in a row and, hey, you won, and the other guy didn’t see it coming. Because it’s not a sport like boxing, kickboxing — most guys [in those sports] are, like, perfect technique. Boxers versus boxers, it’s perfect technique, they did boxing their whole lives.
“But you see a guy that comes from jiu-jitsu and doesn’t give two f**** and just starts swinging for the fences — it’s hard to read those punches. That’s why you’ve got to spar with a little bit of everything. But everybody can punch in MMA. The glove is small and there are so many things you can do. You can clinch, you can fight on the fence.
“So, on paper, I do believe Yan kicks his ass, because Sterling gets tired every time he’s not able to get ahold of you,” Vera continued. “It’s like his heart rate gets high pretty quick, he gets a little anxious, and Yan is pretty calm in there. I like that because I feel I do the same thing, where it’s almost like you’re chilling in there — trying to f*** somebody up but chilling instead of just going crazy.”