As most of us know by now, UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has been forced out of his first title defense at UFC 267, a rematch with former champion Petr Yan, due to lingering issues regarding his neck suffered from their first encounter.
So, without the champion to defend his belt, Yan needed an opponent to replace his former foe. That turned out to be No. 3 ranked Cory Sandhagen, and they’ll fight for the interim UFC bantamweight championship, still to be hosted at UFC 267, October 30, 2021.
Some may say TJ Dillashaw should get the shot, considering he just defeated Sandhagen in July. However, he is coming off knee surgery, and was unavailable to take the fight. It is very unfortunate for the division to be held up even longer, we must say.
Dillashaw, former multi-time UFC bantamweight champion and the arguable bantamweight goat, was intended to challenge the winner of Sterling vs Yan II for the championship early next year.
Now, the winner of this fight will face Sterling, and Dillashaw may have to either sit out, or take another fight in the meantime. The only way that doesn’t happen is if the champion at the end came out unscathed in both fights, the interim title bout, and the title unification bout.
Even then, Dillashaw wouldn’t compete until next summer at the earliest.
More or less, this is terrible news for him.
Nonetheless, many people did see Sandhagen winning that fight against Dillashaw, so it’s great to see himself in a spot like this. Not to mention, this is an incredible match up.
These are perhaps the two best strikers in the division; Yan is a Master of Sport in boxing and mixed martial arts, meaning he competed in numerous amateur competitions and maybe even won some titles doing so, while Sandhagen is a WKA kickboxing champion.
Sandhagen also knocked out multi-time world champions Marlon Moraes (6x WSOF) and Frankie Edgar (4x UFC) in his last two victories, Moraes being a kickboxing world champion as well.
Yan has been unstoppable since starting his career, let alone since coming over to the UFC.
He came over with an 8-1 record as a the three-time ACB bantamweight champion. His only defeat came via five round split decision to Magomed Magomedov, which he avenged two fights later via unanimous decision, recapturing his belt, before defending it a single time.
Yan then won six-straight inside the octagon, with the most recent coming over six-time WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber, before winning the championship in a vacant title fight against ten-time WEC & UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, finishing both via knockout.
Next came his first title defense, against Aljamain Sterling. He was looking great, and Sterling appeared to be fading, but Yan’s corner told him it was okay to throw an illegal knee to a downed Sterling, and he did.
Yan was disqualified as a result, and Sterling is now the UFC bantamweight champion, love it or hate it, agree or not.
Now, we at least get to see if Yan was a legitimate champion. Because honestly, many people believe he beat Sterling, or didn’t lose that fight at least, and many people believe Sandhagen beat Dillashaw.
This could easily be Sandhagen’s first undisputed shot, and Yan’s second defense.
Anyway, how do you see it going down?
If you enjoyed this piece, please feel free to share it on social media!
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.