Aljamain Sterling
Funk Master

USA

Books title-belt rematch with Yan
BantamweightUFC
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.
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To undergo neck surgery
BantamweightUFC
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
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.
Title fight rescheduled
BantamweightUFC
January 7, 2021
Sterling will take on Petr Yan in a bantamweight matchup as a title fight at UFC 259 on March 6, MMAJunkie.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling and Yan were expected to face off in December, but Yan was forced to withdraw for personal reasons. They'll be rebooked as one of three championship fights at UFC 259. Sterling was dominant during his last fight in June, defeating Cory Sandhagen via submission (rear-naked choke) at UFC 250. Yan became the undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champion in July when he defeated Jose Aldo via TKO (punches) at UFC 251. The two fighters are even in height, but Sterling has an advantage in reach.
Upcoming fight scrapped
BantamweightUFC
November 22, 2020
Sterling will no longer face Petr Yan at UFC 256 on Dec. 12, Damon Martin of MMAFighting.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling was slated to compete for the bantamweight title in December, but Yan was forced to withdraw for personal reasons. As a result, neither fighter will compete at UFC 256, although the promotion is reportedly seeking to reschedule the fight for a later date.
Set to compete for title
BantamweightUFC
October 14, 2020
Sterling is being targeted to take on Petr Yan in a bantamweight matchup as the co-main event at a UFC event Dec. 12, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Sterling was expected to get a shot at the bantamweight title, and the date has now been revealed as the promotion finalizes the matchup. Sterling had the best performance of his career in June, defeating Cory Sandhagen via submission (rear-naked choke) in Round 1 at UFC 250. Sterling has been consistently dominant against top-level talent in the promotion due to his elite striking defense and high takedown volume. He'll face Yan, who became the undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champion when he defeated Jose Aldo via TKO (punches) at UFC 251 in July. Yan has been effective recently, but Sterling's resume gives him a legitimate shot to claim the title. The fighters are even in height, while Sterling has a four-inch advantage in reach.