After their long awaited rematch was confirmed for UFC 272 on March 5, Sterling has now confirmed plans to move the fight with Yan to UFC 273 on April 9 instead, although the reason for the change is still unclear.
Sterling revealed the news on his Weekly Scraps podcast while claiming that the move is happening due to Yan’s vaccination status.
The interim bantamweight champion’s team quickly shot down that that accusation when speaking to MMA Fighting on Tuesday while adding that the planned switch “has nothing to do with Yan.”
“Quick update, I know you guys probably seen some of the news but yes, they are talking about pushing our fight back to April,” Sterling said on his podcast. “Not because of me. This is what I was told, that Yan isn’t vaccinated. Yan isn’t vaccinated so he can’t fight in March. ‘I’m Yan and I’m not vaccinated so I can’t fight in March.’ I actually respect his gangster [attitude]. If this is the real reason, I actually respect his stance. I respect it but it doesn’t make any sense and I’m making fun of it because it’s like was he going to be vaccinated in April? I don’t think so.
“So what are we doing? I just want to know when we’re fighting because dude, it’s about time we get to punch each other in the face. Wouldn’t you guys say? I think so. So hopefully we can figure this out sooner rather than later and we can unify these belts and see who is really the guy.”
On my podcast, The Weekly Scraps, we talk about the reason why my title fight is being pushed back to April.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) January 11, 2022
Mr. Potato-Head can’t duck me forever!
*Watch Full episode in my bio*https://t.co/r7HWJMibRc
•#TheWeeklyScraps #AndStill #UnfinishedBusiness #Podcast pic.twitter.com/zl8Czx3pck
Additional sources confirmed to MMA Fighting that Sterling vs. Yan 2 is expected to be moved to UFC 273 in April, although again nothing has been set in stone as the promotion continues to shuffle the deck in light of recent injuries and changes to the upcoming pay-per-view event in March.
Originally, the UFC had planned on Sterling vs. Yan 2 joining Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway 3 as the headliners for the show on March 5. Unfortunately, Holloway suffered an injury in training that forced him out of the fight and the UFC has yet to make a decision on a new opponent for Volkanovski, although “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung is currently the leading candidate.
With Sterling vs. Yan 2 likely being pushed to April, that leaves the promotion scrambling to ensure that UFC 272 still has a worthwhile main event.
As of now, the UFC hasn’t made any official announcements regarding either card but all signs are pointing towards Sterling clashing with Yan for the second time in April.
The fight will serve as a title unification bout after Yan was disqualified in their first fight after blasting Sterling with an illegal knee and the New York native was unable to continue. Sterling had neck surgery shortly after that fight, which kept him out of action for the rest of 2021 while Yan sent onto claim the interim title with an impressive five-round decision win over Cory Sandhagen.