UPDATE: Cory Sandhagen In, Aljamain Sterling Out of UFC 267 Title Fight Vs. Petr Yan
UPDATE (Sept. 28, 2021 3:42PM): Cory Sandhagen will face Petr Yan in an interim bantamweight title fight versus Petr Yan, UFC President Dana White said.
Current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling was supposed to meet Petr Yan in their rematch at UFC 267, but it looks like an injury he’s been suffering since his college wrestling days is still affecting him.
Sterling (20-3) had surgery to repair lingering neck issues, but is still recovering and unable to return to defend his title. The two were set to meet on October 30. A replacement has yet to be announced.
“Let’s clear the air today. I am not injured for my real fans, family, and friends that are asking/wondering,” Sterling wrote on Instagram.
“As always, I like to share the truth and be transparent with my fan base that actually give a sh-t about fighter’s health,” he added. “Training has been going well but I’ve been struggling to get my body to push past two rounds in sparring sessions.
“The fatigue that sets in and the cramping still lingers, which my surgeon said is due to the nerves still recovering from the long-term trauma, and surgery I just had. Nothing I can do about that, other than show up in another shell of myself and risk wasting the surgery and maybe getting severely hurt!!”
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In their first bout in March, Yan was dominating for three to four rounds, but by the end of the fourth round, the Russian fighter landed an illegal knee, which after, Sterling could not continue the fight.
Many fighters and fans claimed that he was faking that injury, but after the fight, he needed surgery and has been recovering.
Sterling is on a six-fight winning streak.
Before winning the title, he defeated Cory Sandhagen via submission rear-naked choke in the early first round. He also defeated Pedro Munhoz, Jimmie Rivera, Cody Stamann and Brett Johns before that.
Yan became champion at UFC 251 after defeating Jose Aldo in the vacant title fight. Before beating Aldo, he defeated Urijah Faber, Jimmie Rivera and John Dodson.
Since Sterling is not medically clear to defend his title, Yan will fight for the interim title with somebody else. Yan said he’s not waiting for him.
“You all know what’s just happened to my fight,” Yan said in an Instagram post translated by RT Sport. “You all know that ‘Aljo’ just ran away like a sneaky coward. Here is what I would like to say: I am not going to sit and wait for him. I am going to fight on Oct. 30 in Abu Dhabi, and I would like to address the UFC. UFC, give me any fighter.”
The No. 2 ranked contender is TJ Dillashaw, but he cannot fight until early 2022 due to injuries. After that is Sandhagen, who suffered a loss in his previous fight with Dillashaw.
In the post-Fight interview, Merab Dvalishvili was asked if he could share the octagon with Yan. He did not know anything about the Sterling’s injury. Dvalishvili said he doesn’t want the title fight because he believes that Sterling will be champion for a long time, and he is not willing to face his close friend and sparring partner inside the octagon.