UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling has revealed that his targeted title unification rematch with interim titleholder, Petr Yan will now likely find itself pushed back to UFC 273 in April, claiming that he has heard the latter will not be vaccinated against COVID-19 in time to compete.
Sterling, who won the undisputed bantamweight championship back in March of last year via a fourth round disqualification win over Yan, became the first champion in the history of the UFC to win a title via disqualification after Yan landed an illegal knee whilst Sterling was deemed a downed fighter.
Expected to return back in October at UFC 267 on ‘Fight Island’ – Sterling was ultimately removed from the co-headlining rematch with Yan after he failed to obtain medical clearance to compete after he underwent invasive surgery to address a lingering neck issue from his amateur wrestling days.
Reports emerged last week detailing how the UFC were now targeting the rematch and title unification bout between Sterling and Yan to take co-headlining status at UFC 272 on March 5. – however, soon thereafter, the bout, which had yet to be officially signed, was thrown into doubt after the targeted headliner fell out.
Reigning featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski was targeted to defend his title in a trilogy bout with Max Holloway, until the latter was forced to withdraw from the targeted tie after he aggravated a prior injury. As a result, Volkanovski is now expected to defend his crown at UFC 273 in April, with the #4 ranked, Chan Sung Jung the current front-running challenger.
With Sterling and Yan now also expected to land on the same card in a co-main event capacity, Sterling has speculated that Yan’s vaccination status against COVID-19 is the reason for the shift in the fight placement.
“Quick update, I know you guys probably seen some of the news but yes, they (the UFC) are talking about pushing our fight back to April (UFC 273), Aljamain Sterling said on his podcast. “Not because of me. This is what I was told, that (Petr) Yan isn’t vaccinated (against COVID-19). Yan isn’t vaccinated so he can’t fight in March. ‘I’m Yan and I’m not vaccinated so I can’t fight in March.’ I actually respect his gangster (attitude). If this is the real reason, I actually respect his stance. I respect it but it doesn’t make any sense and I’m making fun of it because it’s like he was going to be vaccinated in April? I don’t think so.”
“So, what are we doing?” Aljamain Sterling continued. “I just want to know when we’re fighting, dude. It’s about time we get to punch each other in the face. Wouldn’t you guys say? I think so. So hopefully we can figure this out sooner rather than later and we can unify these belts and see who is really the guy.” (Transcribed by MMA Fighting)
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