Petr Yan will miss his chance to fight Aljamain Sterling in a rematch, but at least the former Russian champion will still get his shot at UFC bantamweight gold.
Yan, who was originally scheduled to fight Sterling at UFC 267 next month, will have to wait even longer to get his hands on “Funk Master” again. That’s because UFC officials couldn’t clear Sterling to compete due to a nagging neck injury. Sterling has since been replaced with Cory Sandhagen, who will step in to fight Yan for the interim strap at UFC 267.
While Yan will still get the opportunity to fight for the interim title against “Sandman” it’s a bit of a let down that we won’t see the rematch with Sterling. Remember, their first fight at UFC 259 back in March ended in controversy when Yan landed an illegal knee and Sterling was crowned champion after being unable to continue in the fight. Yan has been waiting for the rematch ever since, but injuries to Sterling have prevented that from happening.
“I wasn’t surprised, you could see it coming for a while. This guy doesn’t want to fight me again,” Yan told BJPENN.com regarding Sterling’s UFC 267 withdrawal. “I don’t care about Sterling, my goal is to get the belt back. I’m not gonna wait for someone who doesn’t want to fight me.”
Yan, who is 7-1 since making his UFC debut in 2018, captured the undisputed UFC bantamweight title with a TKO win over Jose Aldo at UFC 251. The Russian was expected to reign over the division for years to come, but his matchup with Sterling earlier this year threw his plans for a loop.
“No Mercy” now has his shot to regain momentum at 135 pounds and put another UFC belt around his waist in a matchup with Sandhagen at UFC 267. But even if Yan wins and lines himself up for another fight with Sterling sometime in 2022 that doesn’t mean the awaited rematch will actually happen.
“I’m not thinking about him until he grows the balls to enter the Octagon with me again,” said Yan.