Aljamain Sterling

Funk Master

USA

Out
Injury Neck
Est. Return 2/1/2022
Eyeing December return
BantamweightUFC
Out
October 4, 2021
Sterling (neck) hopes to return to the Octagon in December to face the winner of the interim bantamweight title bout between Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen, Steven Marrocco of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling was forced to withdraw from an Oct. 30 matchup with Yan in Abu Dhabi since he has yet to fully recover from April neck surgery, but he believes he'll be closer to 100 percent with an additional two months to heal up. As a result of Sterling's withdrawal, the UFC scheduled the interim title fight between Yan and Sandhagen, but Sterling won't be stripped of his own belt since he has already committed to take on the winner of the interim bout.
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Not medically cleared for UFC 267
BantamweightUFC
Out
September 27, 2021
Updating a previous report, Sterling (neck) failed to get medical clearance for his scheduled UFC 267 matchup against Petr Yan, Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com reports.
ANALYSIS
It was first reported Saturday that Sterling would not be competing at UFC 267, leading many to believe that he withdrew himself for medical reasons. It doesn't appear that was the case, however, as Sterling did not pull himself out but instead failed to be medically cleared. This makes his return from neck surgery an even bigger question mark, and it's possible fight fans won't see him in the Octagon until at least 2022. In the meantime, the UFC is actively searching for a replacement to fight Petr Yan, presumably with an interim bantamweight title on the line.
Pulls out of UFC 267
BantamweightUFC
Out
September 27, 2021
Sterling is out of his UFC 267 title defense against Petr Yan scheduled for Oct. 30 on Fight Island, MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling is the current UFC champion and is riding a six-fight winning streak, though he was awarded the belt last March by a technicality. Yan was cruising his way to a decision victory (or potentially a stoppage) when he connected with an illegal knee while Sterling was a downed opponent, and Sterling was ultimately unable to continue. This all resulted in Sterling entering the rematch as a heavy betting underdog despite holding the belt. As for the reason, Sterling appears to be having complications from a neck surgery. The initial reason for the procedure seems to stem back to his college wrestling days, though taking a knee to the head certainly can't help matters. With Sterling on the sidelines for an undetermined amount of time, look for the UFC to book an interim fight featuring Yan.
Books title-belt rematch with Yan
BantamweightUFC
Out
August 3, 2021
Sterling (neck) is scheduled to face Petr Yan (15-2-0) in a bantamweight title fight Oct. 30 at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling (20-3-0) claimed the title belt from Yan back at UFC 259 in Las Vegas back in March, when the latter was disqualified in the fourth round for an illegal knee to the head. The illegal hit may have exacerbated the existing neck problems that Sterling had endured for the past 10 years, prompting him to undergo surgery a month after his win over Yan. As anticipated, Sterling made a full recovery from the procedure in three months, so he'll be in the clear to put his title belt back on the line in a rematch with Yan.
To undergo neck surgery
BantamweightUFC
Out
April 10, 2021
Sterling will undergo neck surgery on April 15 to address medical issues that have bothered him for nearly a decade, Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling recently won the UFC's 135-pound bantamweight championship over Petr Yan after the latter was disqualified in the fourth round of their title fight for an illegal knee. A rematch is said to be in the works, but the 31-year-oldwill now not be ready to return until the end of the year.
First UFC champ to win belt via DQ
BantamweightUFC
Out
March 6, 2021
Sterling became the new UFC Bantamweight Championship on Saturday after Petr Yan was disqualified (illegal knee) at 4:29 of Round 4 at UFC 259 in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
It's the first time in company history that a title has changed hands via disqualification. Sterling tried to outwork Yan in the first couple rounds, but it didn't go as planned, and he appeared to be well on his way to dropping a decision -- until he wasn't. Sterling was planted on the mat with both knees down, and Yan smashed him with a crushing knee to the head despite a warning from referee Mark Smith not to throw it just seconds earlier. There were rumors that Yan -- who speaks limited English -- received instructions from his corner to throw the strike, but Yan later confirmed that he was told to focus on Sterling's hands and not knees as a downed opponent throughout training and thus thought he was fine to land the knee. He wasn't, and it cost him his belt. Sterling very much wanted to keep fighting, knowing full well he was losing the bout, but anyone watching could tell he was almost certainly concussed and could barely sit up, let alone stand and continue. Sterling tossed the belt on the ground after the announcement was read and UFC President Dana White put it around his waist. The good news for Aljo is that he will almost certainly get another shot to beat Yan fair and square, since the company would appear to have no choice but book an immediate rematch. This sport is something else.