UFC: Aljamain Sterling to have neck surgery which will sideline him until the end of the year

UFC fans are going to have to wait for the rematch between Aljamain Sterling (20-3) and Petr Yan (15-2). The bantamweight champion told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that he’s set for neck surgery on April 15th.

The surgery is to address a medical issue that Sterling has apparently been dealing with for the past ten years. There had been whispers of a summer rematch between Sterling and Yan, but that is now off the table. Sterling won the title by disqualification last month.

The UFC champion told ESPN, “They told me I will heal in three months, and can start doing cardio to get myself ready. They wouldn’t want to see me take a fight until they see everything has fused in my neck correctly. Five months would be ideal.”

Sterling went on to say that he doesn’t believe that the UFC should make an interim title. He pointed out that Yan went the same amount of time between winning the title and their matchup at UFC 259.

What’s next for the UFC?

Sterling told ESPN that in an ideal world he would defend his title in either late October or early November. So, what does the UFC do and will Petr Yan sit on the sidelines for that amount of time?

I’m really not sure what’s going to happen because this surgery screws up the entire timeline. The UFC wanted Sterling and Yan to rematch in the summer. The plan was to have the winner of TJ Dillashaw – Cory Sandhagen fight for the title in the fall.

However, with Sterling out, all bets are off. If I had to guess, I think the UFC is going to make an interim title. I could be dead wrong, but something tells me that they will.

My guess is that the winner of TJ Dillashaw – Cory Sandhagen will fight Petr Yan in the summer for the interim title. The winner of that matchup would then fight Sterling for the undisputed UFC title in the fall. Might not make sense to Sterling, but that’s the direction I think the promotion goes in.

Henry Cejudo teases UFC comeback on ESPN

UFC, Henry Cejudo

Is the King of Cringe coming back to the UFC? Former Olympic Gold Medalist and two-division world champion, Henry Cejudo (16-2), is once again teasing a return to the octagon. This time, he teased the news on ESPN.

Cejudo appeared on ESPN’s SportsNation this morning where he talked about the bantamweight division. Of course, a lot of the conversation centered around UFC 259. The event’s bantamweight title match ended in controversy with Aljamain Sterling (20-3) becoming champion by disqualification.

Petr Yan (15-2) looked like he was well on his way to retaining his bantamweight title. However, with 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Yan launched a knee that hit Sterling flush. The problem was that Sterling’s knee was still on the ground so the strike was illegal.

Sterling was unable to continue and ultimately he walked away as the new UFC bantamweight champion. The promotion has come out and said that the rematch will happen as soon as possible. 

Cejudo acknowledged that he believes the UFC will do the rematch with Yan and Sterling next. However, Cejudo then said that he would like to line up both Yan and Sterling and beat them both. He signed off the interview by saying, “Triple C’s coming back, what’s up!”

UFC return for Henry Cejudo?

The last time we saw Henry Cejudo was back at UFC 249 when he finished Dominick Cruz in the second round. It was the first successful title defense of his bantamweight title. After the fight was over, Cejudo announced that he was walking away from the sport on top.

Cejudo has a case for the most decorated combat sports athlete in history. He’s a two-division UFC champion and he won an Olympic Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling. He’s also only 34 years old which means he has plenty of career left if he wants to come back.

From 2018 – 2020, it’s hard to put on a run like Henry Cejudo did. First, he defeated Demetrious Johnson to become the UFC’s flyweight champion. Then, he knocked out TJ Dillashaw in seconds when Dillashaw was trying to become a two-division champion.

From there, he stopped both Marlon Moraes to win and Dominick Cruz to defend the UFC bantamweight championship. It was truly something special and it was enough where Cejudo felt comfortable walking away.

However, Cejudo has constantly been teasing a return. The UFC’s bantamweight division is in a very interesting spot at the moment. Throwing back in Henry Cejudo could make things even more interesting. This will definitely be something to watch.

State of the bantamweight division after UFC 259

UFC 259 was supposed to provide some clarity in the bantamweight division. While Petr Yan (15-2) was the champion, many questioned how legit he was as the champion seeing as the two wins he had leading to the title came against Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo (29-7).

While both are great former champions, neither are considered to be the cream of the crop at 135 pounds. Aljamain Sterling (20-3) on the other hands was considered by everyone to be the number one contender.

Sterling had been on an incredible run and was expected to be the biggest challenge for Yan. Had Yan defeated Sterling, you couldn’t question the legitimacy of his title reign. Well, for almost four rounds at UFC 259, it looked like we were heading that direction.

Aljamain Sterling was putting up a good fight, but Petr Yan was in control on Saturday night. Sterling was fading badly and it looked like we were getting close to a potential Petr Yan stoppage win. However, that’s when chaos erupted.

With about 30 seconds left in the fourth round, Aljamain Sterling was grounded with one knee on the floor. Yan looked to his corner for instructions and someone said he was good to throw a knee. Yan launched a knee that hit Sterling flush in the temple.

That knee ultimately prevented Sterling from being able to continue. As a result, Yan was disqualified and Sterling won the title. While Sterling was on his way to losing, he gets a DQ win and walked out of UFC 259 the bantamweight champion.

State of the UFC’s bantamweight division

With all of this controversy, Dana White said that the UFC will immediately book the rematch between Sterling and Yan. While Sterling has the title, there’s virtually no one that views him as the champion with him winning in that fashion.

To me, it’s almost like the title is vacant. I don’t think either man should have the title at the moment, but my opinion doesn’t matter. Sterling will go into the rematch with Yan as the bantamweight champion.

With that rematch in the works, the UFC will now look to book Cory Sandhagen (14-2) against former champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw is eligible to fight now that he’s off suspension and Dana White said he would be in a title eliminator in his first fight back.

Considering the spots in the division, it appears that Dillashaw and Sandhagen are on a collision course. The next spot in the rankings belongs to Rob Font (18-4). In my opinion, I would love to see Font fight former UFC champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3) next.

However, Garbrandt has been chasing a fight with Jose Aldo next. If that happens, Font will need a new fight. Based on the rankings, the only fight that would make sense for Font is Pedro Munhoz (19-5, 1 NC).

Munhoz is in the top ten and he’s coming off of a very impressive win against Jimmie Rivera. Prior to that he lost a debatable decision to Frankie Edgar. Had that decision gone towards Munhoz, he’d be in the top five right now. The promotion will get these guys paired up and it should be an exciting 2021 at 135.

UFC will make Yan – Sterling 2 as soon as possible per Dana White

The only title that changed hands last night at UFC 259 was the bantamweight title. Former champion, Petr Yan (15-2) was disqualified in the fourth round and Aljamain Sterling (20-3) became the UFC bantamweight champion.

It was the first time in the history of the promotion that a title has changed hands due to a disqualification. In the first round, Sterling was smothering with his pressure on Yan. However, Yan landed a massive shot and dropped Sterling late in the first.

From that moment on, Petr Yan seemed to be in complete control at UFC 259. At least, that’s what I was seeing. In the fourth round, Aljamain Sterling was clearly starting to break. Yan was doing some serious damage and you got the feeling that the fight wouldn’t last much longer.

Late in the fourth round, Sterling went for a sloppy takedown. Yan pushed Sterling’s head straight to the mat and Sterling stayed low to avoid a knee to the head. Yan looked over to his corner for advice and one of his cornermen said he was good to throw a knee.

The former UFC champion threw a huge knee that landed flush on Sterling. Sterling was hurt badly and after a few minutes, the referee called a stop to the action. Because the ref had warned Yan a little before the knee, the fight was ruled a DQ due to the intentional knee.

UFC’s Plans

Dana White was asked in the post-fight press conference what the plan was. He stated that the UFC matchmakers are going to meet on Tuesday and they will get the rematch between the two men booked as soon as possible.

White also acknowledged that he believed Yan was well on his way to winning the fight. However, the decision to knee was baffling to him. Sterling was cleared at the hospital and Yan came out of the fight with no injuries.

With that, the UFC will likely book the rematch in the early summer. I could see June being the targeted timeline for this matchup. Of course, we will likely find out more this week, but I expect this rematch to be booked as soon as possible.

Aljamain Sterling wins by DQ to become champion at UFC 259

The first of three title fights tonight at UFC 259 was the bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). These two were originally supposed  to fight back in December, but the fight got delayed.

Tonight was the first title defense for Petr Yan. Yan won the bantamweight title back at UFC 251 when he stopped Jose Aldo. Since making his debut with the UFC back in 2018, Yan has been perfect going 7-0.

While it’s been relatively smooth sailing for Yan so far, tonight was going to be his toughest test. There is no questioning that the top contender in the UFC‘s bantamweight division is Aljamain Sterling.

Sterling has strung together five consecutive wins to earn this title shot tonight. None of the wins were as impressive as his victory over fellow top contender Cory Sandhagen. Those two met back at UFC 250.

The fight was supposed to be incredibly even, however, it didn’t appear that way. Sterling was able to get Sandhagen to the ground quickly and submit him within 90 seconds. He was going to be the biggest test Petr Yan has seen in the UFC so far.

UFC 259 Recap

Round 1

The UFC bantamweight title fight opened with immediate pressure from Sterling. Sterling opens with a couple of nice kicks to the body. A nice jab lands for Sterling and Yan looked very composed early on.

Yan had his guard high just trying to time Sterling. Another nice body kick lands for Sterling. Yan’s body was really red from the kicks of Sterling. Sterling was pushing forward with a ton of pressure here in the first.

A nice combination lands for Sterling. Yan catches a kick and throws Sterling to the ground, but lets him up. Sterling goes right back to the pressure. A flying knee lands for Aljamain Sterling, but it didn’t seem to hurt Yan.

First big takedown attempt for Sterling and he gets Yan down. However, Yan gets right back up. Yan separates and lands a massive combination that floors Sterling. Sterling is wobbling around, but goes right back to the pressure.

The UFC champion floors Sterling with a leg kick. Sterling gets back up, but his facial expression has changed. Yan is smiling at Sterling in the final minute. Sterling tries to grapple and Yan slams him down. Good start for Sterling, but the UFC champ takes the first round.

Round 2

The UFC champ wanted to get right back to the action in the second round. Sterling opens the striking with a body kick. A nice jab lands from Sterling and he tries to takedown the champ. Yan defended well and threw Sterling to the ground.

Yan was smiling at Sterling and lets him up. Sterling goes right back to the pressure. A couple of nice body shots lands for Sterling and he shoots in for another takedown. However, he couldn’t get Petr Yan down here in the second.

While Yan defended well, Sterling wouldn’t give up on the takedown attempt. Sterling tries a trip and still can’t get Yan down. Yan separates, but Sterling gave him no room to breathe. Sterling went right back to the takedown attempt against the fence.

One minute left in the round and these two were just along the fence. A nice knee lands for Petr Yan and Sterling tries hard for the takedown, but Yan separates. Again, Sterling goes right back to the pressure. With ten seconds left, the UFC champion lands his own takedown. With the pressure, I lean Sterling in round two.

Round 3

The third round opens with again, more pressure from Sterling. However, he did seem slower in the third round. A couple of nice jabs land for Aljamain Sterling. Yan pushes forward and lands a nasty hook to the body.

The UFC champ started opening up here in the third. Yan was pressuring Sterling more in the third and lands some big shots. The pace was significantly slower for Sterling her in the third round. A sloppy takedown attempt from Sterling is easily defended by Yan.

Yan was walking Sterling down here in the third. A nice 1-2 lands for Yan and he uses a clinch to just throw the challenger to the ground. Yan lets him back up and the UFC champ went right back to work. However, Sterling was able to use a takedown attempt to hold Yan against the fence.

Sterling looked exhausted here in the third round. The two come together again and Yan just throws Sterling to the ground. Sterling gets back up and tries for more takedowns, but they were very sloppy. Clear third round for the UFC bantamweight champion.

Round 4

Petr Yan looked much fresher in between rounds here at UFC 259. Sterling opens the fourth round with a body kick. Yan grabs the leg of Sterling and he throws the challenger back to the ground.

However, he didn’t follow him to the ground. Instead, the UFC champ went to work with kicks to the legs. A big knee to the body lands for Yan as Sterling gets up. A big combination lands for Yan, but that forces Sterling to push forward.

A couple of nice hooks to the body land for Aljamain Sterling. A stiff straight left hand from Yan backs off Sterling. A huge body kick lands for the UFC champion and he’s turning it up. However, Sterling shoots for another takedown to stop the pressure.

Yan immediately turns Sterling around and separates. Halfway through the round and Sterling looks like he’s moving in slow motion. Another body kick lands for Yan. The champ lands a big left hand. Both men were looking fatigued here in the fourth at UFC 259.

A huge left straight hurts Sterling. Sterling was starting to walk away from Petr Yan. Sterling then started shooting for takedowns out of desperation. A huge combination lands for Yan and Sterling keeps plotting forward.

A big illegal knee lands for Petr Yan and Sterling is hurt on the mat. This one looks like it’s going to be over. Aljamain Sterling is going to be the new UFC champion by disqualification.

Aljamain Sterling def. Petr Yan by Disqualification (Illegal Knee)

UFC 259 Preview: Petr Yan – Aljamain Sterling

The first of three title fights at UFC 259 is the bantamweight title match between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). Originally, these two were supposed to fight in December, however, they will finally stand across from each other tomorrow night.

Since making his debut with the UFC back in 2018, nobody has been able to stop Petr Yan. Yan has gone 7-0 with four stoppages over the last couple of years. In late 2019, Yan demolished Hall of Famer Urijah Faber which really announced his arrival to the world.

From there, Yan earned a vacant title opportunity against former champion, Jose Aldo. The two met at UFC 251 on Fight Island. Yan got off to a slow start, but as the fight went on, he started taking control. Yan ended up with a fifth round TKO to capture the bantamweight title.

Just one month prior to Yan becoming champion, Aljamain Sterling fought Cory Sandhagen. This matchup was considered a title eliminator and nobody knew how it would go. Well, Sterling got Sandhagen down and submitted him in just under 90 seconds.

With that emphatic win, Sterling had earned himself a UFC title shot. Sterling is unbeaten since 2018 having gone 5-0 inside the octagon. He’s defeated Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera, Pedro Munhoz, and Sandhagen on his road to UFC 259.

UFC 259 Prediction

When it comes to the title fight at UFC 259, the path to victory for both men is quite clear. For Aljamain Sterling, he has to get this fight to the ground. Yes, we’ve seen him show off some good striking, just take a look at the Pedro Munhoz fight.

However, we all know that Sterling is going to need to get this fight to the ground to win tomorrow night. For Petr Yan, retaining his UFC title is all about defending the takedown. Yan’s boxing is sensational and he needs to make this a striking matchup to win.

Aljamain Sterling has never gone five rounds while Yan has done it several times. I’m also going to be curious to see the gas tanks of both men. The first round of this fight is going to tell me a lot.

If Sterling is able to get Yan down early and often with little trouble, we are going to have a new UFC bantamweight champion. However, if Yan is able to keep this mostly on the feet, he’s going to score a knockout tomorrow. In the end, I’m leaning towards Petr Yan getting the finish and retaining his title tomorrow night.

Prediction: Petr Yan by TKO – Round 4

After highlight knockout at UFC Vegas 18, what’s next for Cory Sandhagen?

One of the most highly anticipated matchups at UFC Vegas 18 was the bantamweight matchup between Cory Sandhagen (14-2) and Frankie Edgar (24-9-1). This fight was looked at as a title eliminator in the UFC‘s bantamweight division.

Going into the fight, I was really leaning towards Frankie Edgar. Yes, Edgar is the much older fighter and Sandhagen has so much promise. However, there’s just something about Edgar that makes it hard to bet against sometimes.

I figured that Edgar’s pressure and activity levels would be enough to score a decision. However, I was completely wrong about the outcome. Like I expected, Edgar came out at UFC Vegas 18 with a lot of pressure.

In the opening seconds, Sandhagen was already on his bicycle on the outside. Sandhagen did a good job of landing some good calf kicks that prevented an Edgar entry early on. Then, as soon as Edgar made his move inside, Sandhagen launched with a gorgeous flying knee.

The knee landed flush on Edgar’s chin and the former UFC lightweight champion went crashing to the canvas. That knee was so beautifully timed and it made a statement from Cory Sandhagen to the UFC‘s bantamweight division.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?

There is only one possible thing next for Cory Sandhagen after UFC Vegas 18. That one thing is a title shot. There is nothing left for Sandhagen to do after that performance on Saturday night.

Next month at UFC 259, Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling will battle it out for the bantamweight championship. Whoever wins that night will be the next man to take on Cory Sandhagen inside the octagon.

There is already history between Sandhagen and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). Sterling dismantled Sandhagen last June and choked him unconscious in under 90 seconds to earn his UFC title shot. A rematch between the two would be fun.

Of course, then you have the champion, Petr Yan (15-1). Yan has all the makings of a guy who can be champion for a long time. However, to do that, he’s going to have to defeat Sterling and Sandhagen next. An extremely tall order for the UFC champion.

Cory Sandhagen says TJ Dillashaw needs a win before getting UFC title shot

One of the more exciting divisions in the UFC is the bantamweight division. Just last week, we saw it get announced that Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3) are finally going to fight for the title in March at UFC 259. 

Next month, there is also a big time bantamweight matchup scheduled for February 6th. Cory Sandhagen (13-2) will be taking on Frankie Edgar (24-8-1) in the co-main event of that UFC Fight Night.

Both Sandhagen and Edgar are currently ranked inside the top four of the bantamweight division. Considering that Cody Garbrandt (12-3) is ranked third despite moving down to flyweight, both men are actually ranked in the top three.

However, it’s not a guarantee that the winner of their matchup will get a UFC title shot. While it makes all the sense in the world and whoever wins would definitely be deserving, there’s one fighter that could throw a wrench into things.

That fighter is the former UFC bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw (16-4). Dillashaw is getting ready to return after serving a two-year suspension following a positive drug test for EPO.

Dillashaw’s suspension forced him to relinquish the UFC bantamweight championship. He never lost the title inside the octagon, but his actions outside the cage gave the belt away. Dillashaw has been vocal about his desire to fight for the title.

UFC shot right away? Sandhagen says no way

TJ Dillashaw told ESPN in early December that he believes he should get a title shot immediately. His logic is that he never lost the title inside the cage and Yan really didn’t earn the title. For that reason, the championship is up for grabs.

Jose Aldo (29-7) recently called out Dillashaw for a fight after his last win. Honestly that matchup would make a ton of sense for both men. However, reports are that there is no traction at the moment to get that fight done.

Sandhagen has been hearing whispers about Dillashaw’s desire for a UFC title shot. He made it clear that he’s not in favor saying, “I heard him say he’s playing the ‘financially secure’ card. We’ve been putting in work while you’ve been gone. So that would kind of be a bummer if they just gave it to him.”

At this point, it doesn’t appear that the UFC is going to give Dillashaw his desired title shot. Yes, Dillashaw never lost the title inside the cage, however, he hasn’t fought in two years due to a suspension for taking a banned substance.

Dominick Cruz (22-3) never lost his title either but was forced to face Takeya Mizugaki instead of getting a title shot after his first layoff. And that was due to injury. Sandhagen is right in that the winner of him and Frankie Edgar should get the next shot at the title.

The UFC should really try to book Dillashaw against a guy like Aldo. Let him reestablish himself in the division and try to repair his name. Do not give him a title shot just because he held the belt when he was suspended. It’s not fair to the guys who have been competing.

UFC rebooks Petr Yan – Aljamain Sterling

The UFC has finalized the much anticipated bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3). MMA Junkie was the first outlet to report that the sides had finalized the new fight date.

The UFC bantamweight title fight will officially take place on March 6th at UFC 259. The PPV card is turning out to be quite the spectacle as the promotion has already booked Adesanya – Blachowicz and Nunes – Anderson for UFC 259.

Now, we get to add Yan and Sterling to the mix. Yan has looked untouchable since he made his octagon debut back in 2018. He’s gone on a seven fight run that has led him to the undisputed bantamweight title.

After Henry Cejudo (16-2) vacated the bantamweight title after UFC 249, the UFC decided to pair Yan up against the former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (29-7). Yan was tested early on, but in the end, he dominated and finished Aldo in the fifth round.

It turned out to be a devastating performance as Yan captured the bantamweight championship. Yan looks like he’s going to be incredibly tough to beat, however, his opponent on March 6th seems very much up to the task.

Sterling’s UFC title shot

There is nobody in the UFC that is more deserving of a title shot than Aljamain Sterling. Sterling was arguably the top bantamweight contender alongside Yan prior to the Aldo fight.

However, prior to Cejudo fighting Dominick Cruz (22-3) at UFC 249, Cejudo was supposed to fight Aldo. Aldo couldn’t travel due to the pandemic so Cruz stepped in. Despite Sterling being ranked higher, Aldo got the title shot against Yan because he had been promised one previously.

Sterling had to wait and fight Cory Sandhagen (13-2). Sandhagen looked like he was going to be incredibly tough to beat, however, Sterling went right through him and choked him unconscious in less than 90 seconds.

For his win, Sterling was given a title shot against Yan in December. However, Yan had to pull out of the fight and the UFC has been working on a replacement date. They have found one on an incredibly stacked card on March 6th.

UFC: If Henry Cejudo returns in 2021, who will he fight?

UFC, Henry Cejudo

At UFC 249 in May of last year, Henry Cejudo (16-2) successfully defended his bantamweight title when he stopped Dominick Cruz (22-3). The fight capped off an incredible three-year run for Cejudo.

Cejudo lost a split decision to Joseph Benavidez (28-7) in December of 2016. However, after that loss, Cejudo would not lose again in the UFC. He climbed to the top of the flyweight division where he was the first flyweight to defeat Demetrious Johnson (30-3-1).

From there, he defeated TJ Dillashaw (16-4) before moving up to bantamweight. At bantamweight he stopped Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) to capture the title before of course stopping Cruz at UFC 249.

After the fight was over, Cejudo said that he was walking away on top. At just 33 years old, Cejudo seemed comfortable with his decision to retire. However, he’s been constantly active on social media over the last few months.

Cejudo doesn’t talk like someone who’s fought his last fight in the UFC. He’s hinted at returning to the octagon at some point and perhaps 2021 is the year. So if Cejudo does return, who should he fight?

Who would the UFC pair him with?

The fight that Cejudo really wants is a fight with the UFC’s featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). Fighting Volkanovski would give Cejudo the chance to do something truly remarkable.

Cejudo is already an Olympic Gold Medalist and a two-division UFC champion. However, if he were to fight and defeat Volkanovski, he would become the first fighter in the promotion’s history to have held a title in three divisions.

However, given the landscape of featherweight, I think this is unlikely. Volkanovski has a big challenge in front of him in Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). After Ortega, there is a plethora of top contenders waiting.

I can’t imagine the UFC giving Cejudo that fight because I don’t think he would commit to defending that title. I believe if he moved up for that fight it would be a one and done type of situation.

Now, if Volkanovski clears out the division over the next year or two, then I could see the UFC doing it. However, that division is too fluid right now to have a one and done type of title fight.

The same situation could be said about bantamweight. Petr Yan (15-1) and Aljamain Sterling (19-3) are getting ready to fight for that title. Bantamweight is one of the more stacked divisions in the UFC. I can’t see them letting Cejudo hold up the division.

Return to flyweight or a catchweight?

Of course that leaves flyweight and Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). To me, this is the most likely fight as things currently stand. Figueiredo is set to have a rematch with Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) followed by a fight with Cody Garbrandt (12-3) should he beat Moreno.

If Figueiredo wins both of those fights, I could see the UFC pairing him up against Cejudo in a one-off fight. It would be a massive fight for Figueiredo who the UFC is putting a lot of stock into. They’ve already had some fun back and forth which could fuel the potential fight.

As you can see, there are a number of options across three divisions. If Cejudo commits to coming back and competing more than once, any of the divisions are a possibility. However, if it’s just a one-time deal it will likely be against the flyweight champion of the world.