UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi will be without one of its world champions.
Several people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed to MMA Fighting that bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling came out of his rematch with Petr Yan at UFC 267 due to injury. The event is scheduled to take place on October 30 at the Etihad Arena.
Sources say Sterling has persistent neck issues after surgery to repair a long-standing injury suffered during the time of his college struggle.
For now, no replacement is scheduled to face Yan, although it is hoped that an interim title fight will take place in the main co-event.
Sterling won Yan’s title by disqualification due to an illegal knee in the fourth round of the UFC 258 event in March. “Funk Master” has won his last six fights, including a first round submission victory over Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 to become the No.1 contender, a second round submission victory over Cody Stamann at UFC 228 , as well as the decision outweighs Pedro Munhoz, Jimmie Rivera and Brett Johns.
Yan first won UFC gold when he stopped Jose Aldo in the fifth round of UFC 251 last July. DQ’s loss to Sterling in his first title defense ended a 10-game winning streak.
UFC 267 is titled with a light heavyweight title fight between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira.