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Aljamain Sterling dispels rumors that upcoming neck surgery will keep him sidelined for 9 months

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling will undergo neck surgery that will sideline him for several months but he’s firing back at rumors that had him sitting out for the remainder of the year.

Ahead of his most recent fight against Petr Yan in March, Sterling had detailed continued problems with his neck that stems from an injury originally suffered during a wrestling practice all the way back in college. The lingering issues have continued to plague the New York native throughout his career but he was always able to compete regardless of the injury.

Unfortunately, Sterling is still dealing with a “constant, radiating pain” in his neck and it’s forced him to finally deal with it or risk additional problems moving forward.

“I was trying to avoid going under the knife but we’re back on schedule,” Sterling said on his own ‘Weekly Scraps’ podcast. “We’re going to get an artificial disc replacement done. There’s two procedures — the fusion or the artificial disc replacement. We decided to go with the artificial disc replacement just to keep more of the flexibility of the neck and not put more stress with the fusion on the disc that are a level above or below. Because when you take away the motion and it fuses, you put more stress on the discs above or below or sometimes both.

“A lot of time and a lot of effort researching it has been going into it. Yeah, it was a week but I tried to exhaust all options. The last thing I could have done was taking more time, which is what I don’t want to do. I want to get this thing done and taken care of so that I can get back out to compete as soon as possible.”

While the timing of the surgery will delay the rematch with Yan until later this year, Sterling promises that he’ll be back sooner rather than later and he’s

“It’s not going to be nine months. I don’t know why people keep saying that, who keeps spreading these lies,” Sterling said. “But it’s like the UFC has a mole that just tells stuff that they don’t know is actually true. I’m not doing the fusion. I’m not going to be out for nine months. I’m probably going to be fighting around August, September, October. We’ll see how well my body takes and how good of a shape I can get in. Obviously the more time the better but I can ease my way into it.

“I really want to smack this Muppet. I really do. But I’ve got to be smart about it.”

According to Sterling, the problems with his neck have been an issue through most of his training camps in the UFC but the issues have only gotten worse lately.

A cortisone shot alleviated the pain temporarily but Sterling knew that was like putting a band-aid on an open would because sooner or later he was going to have to deal with surgery to fix the neck injury.

“Now I’m at the point where after this Yan fight, I had a bad flare up,” Sterling explained. “I had to get an injection, the cortisone shot, first time ever getting an injection in my neck. The doctor actually put it in the wrong spot. I’m getting the operation on the C6, C7 disc. He put it in the C5, C6, which is one level above. It should have dissipated a little bit more but at the end of the day he still put it in the wrong spot.

“This was the last fight for Petr Yan when he pulled out for that we still don’t know why he pulled out for. He pulled out though. Apparently, I’m afraid of a rematch but the guy is pulling out of fights without disclosing why? OK.”

Because the neck issues have plagued Sterling in both training and his fights, he felt it was finally time to deal with the injury before returning for the rematch with Yan.

Sterling became bantamweight champion after Yan blasted him with an illegal knee strike that led to the Russian being disqualified. Now as he prepares for the rematch, Sterling doesn’t want to leave anything to chance in order to secure the victory.

“Just one of those things, that finally got to get it done,” Sterling said. “Fortunately, this is not going to be nine months. The doctor did say they think the recovery time to start doing cardio and everything is three months but he would like to see me fight around months five or six.

“Do a full training camp and get my body easing into it and not just hammering it right away. I want to end all the crap talk with this Muppet of a fighter, who’s obviously probably brain dead freaking peanut butter Peter Pan.”

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