UFC champion Aljamain Sterling pulled from UFC 267
UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling was scheduled to defend his title against former titleholder Petr Yan on October 30th at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. However, those plans were changed as Sterling wasn’t reportedly given medical clearance.
Sterling took to his Instagram today to release a statement. “As always, I like to share the truth and be transparent with my fan base that actually give a s--- about fighters' health, my training has been going well but I've been struggling to get my body to push past 2 RDs 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!!"
The idea of Sterling’s injury has been met with some controversy by fans and Yan himself. Yan was disqualified in the fourth round of their last title fight in March for throwing an illegal knee. The 32-year-old underwent neck surgery in April to address a lingering injury he'd dealt with for years. Sterling's neck is still an issue and the reason he was pulled from the fight. Yan took to social media himself and claims that he will not wait for Sterling to get healthy he wants to fight right now.
“You all know that [Sterling] just ran away like a sneaky coward,” Yan said in a selfie video that was uploaded and translated by RT Sport. “I am not going to sit and wait for him. I am going to fight. Give me any fighter, top-five, top-seven, top-10. Anyone who deserves to fight for the belt and I will get the job done.”
The UFC is currently discussing an interim title belt fight with Petr Yan and a soon to be replacement for Sterling. A potential option to face Yan for an interim title is Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen just lost a split decision to TJ Dillashaw in July but was on the verge of title contention prior to that. Dillashaw is still recovering from a recent knee surgery so he is unable to compete.
As far as Sterling he points to December as a logical return date for himself. "I originally wanted to fight in December but the plans were pushed up earlier," Sterling wrote on Instagram. "Unfortunately, my body isn't agreeing with me and I asked for an extension and asked for Petr Yan to wait, so that I will be the first man in the UFC to beat his a--."