UFC 267, the promotion’s triumphant return to Abu Dhabi, will now be taking place without one of its top fighters on the card.
As first reported by MMA Fighting, Aljamain Sterling has sustained an injury and is now out of his title defense rematch against former champion Petr Yan.
The Sterling-Yan grudge match was set for the co-main event position at UFC 267. The first bout occurred earlier this year, where after a competitive first three rounds, Aljamain Sterling would become the first person in UFC history to win a title off a disqualification, as Petr Yan was penalized in round four for an illegal knee to a downed Sterling, resulting in Sterling not being able to continue.
Following the bout, Sterling would take some time off to heal up a neck injury that had plagued him since his collegiate wrestling days. However, Lingering issues from that same injury, which resulted in “Alho” undergoing surgery, have now caused him to pull out of the long-awaited rematch against Yan.
According to numerous reports, the UFC is still exploring the possibility of having Yan on the card, as they are looking into booking an interim title bout with Yan in it. Per Ariel Helwani, the current frontrunner for the bout is top contender Cory Sandhagen, who is coming off a title eliminator loss to TJ Dillashaw earlier this year.
However, if negotiations fall through with Sandhagen there are other options. The aforementioned TJ Dillashaw could be an option if he’s healed up from the Sandhagen bout, and top prospect Sean O’Malley has already asked for the bout against Yan on Twitter.
UFC 267 is currently set for October 30 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The rare non PPV numbered card is slated to have Jan Blachowicz defend his light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira in the main event.