Reported by MMA Island and later confirmed by Ariel Helwani of ESPN, Yan has pulled out of the fight against Sterling due to “undisclosed reasons.” Per the report from MMA Island, the fight will be rescheduled for February.
Yan was set to make his first official title defense since winning the vacant bantamweight title against former featherweight champion turned bantamweight contender, Jose Aldo at UFC 251 in July. After the Aldo fight, Yan insisted that Sterling was likely the next person in line to challenge for the title. Sterling competed a month prior against Cory Sandhagen in a No. 1 contender fight at UFC 250, where he quickly submitted Sandhagen with a rear-naked choke in the first round.
With both Yan and Sterling interested in the fight, it was made official a few months later for the final pay-per-view card of the year.
Despite the fight supposedly being rescheduled for 2021, Sterling appears not to want to wait much longer for his first championship opportunity in the UFC. Upon finding out the news that Yan was out, Sterling made a suggestion on Twitter about an interim title fight instead.
He later went on to wish Yan well and expressed his desire to fight him when he is at 100 percent.
Everything happens for a reason. I hope everything is good with you and your family .@PetrYanUFC We will settle our business when you can be 100% focused and ready to give the fans the best show we can.— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) November 22, 2020
See you soon.
Whether an interim bantamweight title fight happens is yet to be seen, but it could potentially help the card as it has been through a number of lineup changes in the last couple of months. UFC 256 was supposed to host a welterweight championship fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns, but it was postponed until 2021. The co-main event at the time was a women’s featherweight championship fight between Amanda Nunes and Megan Anderson, but that was also postponed as Nunes pulled out with a medical issue. Now with Yan and Sterling off the card, there is only one championship fight left on the card.
Flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo just defended his title against Alex Perez at UFC 255 on Saturday night, but will reportedly be staying in Vegas to go for his second defense against Brandon Moreno at UFC 256.