Instead of the rematch against Aljaamin Sterling he had hoped for so much, Petr Yan at the UFC 267 event will have Cory Sandhagen against him, in the fight for the interim title. Sterling canceled a rematch a few weeks ago, after which "Sandman" jumped in, and the UFC introduced a temporary belt as a stake in the fight.
Namely, Sterling could be out of action for some time, which would mean that the collision of the real and temporary champion will happen when he returns. Unless the UFC loses patience earlier and the belt is taken away from him.
This sequence of events certainly fell hardest on Yan. "I wasn't surprised, it could actually have been assumed for a while. He doesn't want to fight me one more time. But I don't really care about Sterling."
"My goal is to get the belt back. I have no intention of waiting for someone who obviously doesn't want to fight me, ”Yan told BJPenn.com. Recall, Sterling won the belt with Yan’s disqualification in the fourth round of their fight held in the spring of this year.
At that moment, the Russian was leading 2: 1 in the rounds, and the fourth looked like the best in the whole fight. In the moments when he seemed to take complete control, he hit Sterling with an illegal knee blow. After a few minutes of drama, Sterling said he was unable to continue the fight, to which Yan was disqualified.
Sterling threw the belt awarded to him that way on the floor, but with his actions and statements in the following weeks, he still turned the entire MMA community against him.
As for this fight, the first planned replacement was TJ Dillashaw, but due to injury, he is also unable to do the fight so the call came to Sandhagen.
He lost a very uncertain fight to Dillashaw in July with a split decision, so he was the most realistic choice. "I know Cory wasn't the first to be offered a fight, but I believe he was the best option available. I told my representatives that I would fight anyone on that date," commented Yan, who is only sorry that Sterling's belt isn't taken away because of everything.
"I believe this was supposed to be a fight for the vacant title, nothing about this belt is temporary. Sterling knew he would not be able to fight for the title in October." "But since April he has claimed so only that they would not take it away from him.
He signed a contract, even though he knew from the beginning that he would not show up." "If he had been honest from the beginning, I could have fought for the belt back this summer. After that, I would have already defended it while he recovers.
He is saying now that recovery takes 12 to 18 months. Didn't he know that right after the surgery? " Many will agree with Yan, but that doesn’t matter now. He has a serious opponent in front of him, and the fact is that the fans will consider the winner of this fight a real champion.
At least until Sterling finally comes back and if he can prove he's really the best. It’s also going to be a hell of a hard job.