Once-beaten UFC bantamweight Petr Yan captured the vacant 135-pound title with a fifth-round beatdown of Jose Aldo at the UFC 251 pay-per-view (PPV) event back in July, taking over the post abandoned by former two-division titleholder Henry Cejudo.
One month prior, Aljamain Sterling submitted Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 to win his fifth straight bout and cement his place as the No. 2 contender behind Marlon Moraes. So it would make sense to have Yan defend his title against Sterling his next time out.
So what’s the hold up?
“I don’t know. I think we’re just figuring out contract negotiations,” Sterling told MMA Junkie. “Your boy’s gotta get paid. I gotta get paid. I put in a lot of work. It’s the right fight to make and I think the people want it. There’s a lot of hype behind this one and I can’t wait to steal that thunder.”
Sterling later poked Yan on Twitter and suggested they take over the UFC 256 headliner, which lost the 170-pound showdown between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns after “The Nigerian Nightmare” asked for more time to prepare.
“I heard UFC have different plans,” Yan responded. “Hold up is not from my side. You should be worried.”
Working in Sterling’s favor is the fact that Moraes is already booked and UFC does not have anyone else in the queue. Cody Garbrandt is ranked No. 3 but is now injured and still chasing after gold at 125 pounds. Behind “No Love” is Sandhagen, who lost to “Funkmaster” last June.
Then again, I guess this guy is always in the running.