Dana White was more nebulous than a Magic 8-Ball after UFC on ESPN 15 when it came to fight announcements. Eschewing any solid “Yes” for the most part, we got a lot of “Probably” and “Most Likely” answers during Saturday’s post-event press conference (watch it). “Probably” when it came to Tony Ferguson vs. Dustin Poirier, and then “Most Likely” when it came to Petr Yan’s next bantamweight title challenger.
Unfortunately for Frankie Edgar, it’s not gonna be him based on his gutsy split decision win over Pedro Munhoz in the main event (watch the highlights here).
“There’s some things that have to play out and there’s people ahead of him,” White said. “He put on a good showing tonight and put himself in a good position, but ... he’s got some work to do there ... Two [more fights] or one, we don’t know, it depends on who he fights next.”
That’s very good news for Aljamain Sterling, who has been the consensus No. 1-ranked contender at bantamweight, according to pretty much everyone but White. After weeks of waffling and “Ask Again Later” answers, UFC’s president finally gave Sterling his due.
“It’s more than likely going to be Sterling,” he told Heidi Androl on the ESPN+ post-show.
Unsurprisingly, a very happy sounding Sterling took to Twitter to celebrate that mild acknowledgement.
About time!! I’m coming for you soon my Russian friend https://t.co/KIkctPL1ct— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) August 23, 2020
December will work great for the both of us.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) August 23, 2020
Yan can get his shit together.
I can get my shit together.
Bring the perfect and focused storm from both sides. https://t.co/CRTwCrOkTj
Of course, all of this is contingent on UFC being able to get Yan and Sterling to sign on the dotted line. We’re sure Yan’s management probably want a more bankable name who isn’t likely to drag him to the mat and dominate him with wrestling. And we’re sure Sterling wants to get paid, something UFC is surprisingly reluctant to do when it comes to lower weight contenders (example: Henry Cejudo taking a pay cut to rematch Demetrious Johnson).
Let’s hope UFC manages to put the pieces together, cuz this would be one hell of an end of year scrap.