The UFC is moving forward with an interim bantamweight title fight between former champion Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen on October 30, UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Tuesday.
Defending champion Aljamain Sterling was scheduled to defend his title against Yan on the same date, in a rematch of their March title fight. However, Sterling did not receive medical clearance for the fight, as he is still recovering from recent neck surgery.
With Sterling (20-3) out indefinitely, the UFC has decided to create an interim title. Yan (15-1) lost the belt to Sterling in March when he threw an illegal knee in the fourth round of a title fight he was winning. Sterling was unable to continue after the illegal attack and Yan was disqualified.
The interim title fight will take place at UFC 267 on October 30 in Abu Dhabi.
Sandhagen (14-3) is actually coming off a loss to former champion TJ Dillashaw in July, but the five-round fight was extremely close. Sandhagen lost by split decision. Dillashaw probably would have gotten the go-ahead for the title fight, however he is recovering from knee surgery.
There is no official deadline for Sterling’s return. The hope is that he is healthy enough to unify the bantamweight championship against the winner of Yan and Sandhagen in 2022.