Russian former UFC champion Petr Yan has petitioned the promotion to offer him a new opponent for the upcoming fight card in Abu Dhabi after title holder Aljamain Sterling withdrew from their scheduled rematch citing an injury.
The UFC’s return to the United Arab Emirates suffered a blow when it was revealed late on Saturday that Sterling had pulled out of the anticipated fight opposite Yan, scheduled for October 30.
The American fighter blamed “lingering” issues with his neck after having surgery to repair an injury in April, with no timetable as to when ‘The Funk Master’ might be medically cleared to return to action.
Reacting to the news, Yan has fired another salvo at his foe in what is fast becoming one of the UFC’s most contentious rivalries.
Petr Yan looks determined.
Same mission. Same location. No mercy. pic.twitter.com/Ptj3sr7agy
— RT Sport (@RTSportNews) September 26, 2021
“Greetings, all,” said Yan on an Instagram Live video. “You know what’s just happened to my fight.
“You all know that Aljo just ran away like a sneaky coward. Here is what I would like to say.
“I am not going to sit and wait for him. I am going to fight on October 30 in Abu Dhabi, and I would like to address the UFC.
“UFC! Give me any fighter. Top five, top seven, top ten. Anyone who deserves to fight for the belt, and I will get the job done.
“I will show you who is the real champ.”
The tense relationship between the two fighters dates back to their controversial first meeting in March, when Yan, who entered the fight as the champion, was disqualified after he landed an illegal knee on Sterling in the fourth round when he appeared to be winning.
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Sterling determined that he was unable to continue after being given time to recover by the referee, with officials announcing the 32-year-old as the winner by disqualification in what is the first and only time in UFC history that a world title has changed hands in that way.
But despite what Yan asserts is Sterling’s “cowardice“, he says that he wishes to remain on the forthcoming October 30 card to make another statement as to his own title credentials.
Since news of Sterling’s withdrawal broke there has been speculation that the UFC may opt to create an interim bantamweight title, with Yan heavily linked to a fight with the impressive American fighter Cory Sandhagen.
Sandhagen was recently defeated by the returning TJ Dillashaw, who is currently unavailable through injury.
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