UFC Champ Aljamain Sterling Reveals Difficulties in Training After Neck Surgery

By Tristen Critchfield Sep 27, 2021

Aljamain Sterling has been doing his best to prepare for a bantamweight title rematch against Petr Yan at UFC 267, but training hasn’t been going according to plan after the champ underwent neck surgery earlier this year.

“The Funk Master” took to Instagram to share the lingering issues he has dealt with in camp as a result of that procedure. It was reported over the weekend that Sterling had withdrawn from the Oct. 30 rematch with Yan.

“As always, I like to share the truth and be transparent with my fan base that actually give a shit about fighters’ health,” Sterling wrote. “Training has been going well but I’ve been struggling to get my body to push pass [two rounds] in sparring sessions. The fatigue that sets in and the cramping still lingers, which my surgeon said is due to the nerves still recovering from the long-term trauma, and surgery I just had. Nothing I can do about that, other than show up in another shell of myself and risk wasting the surgery and maybe getting severely hurt!!”

Sterling, who claimed bantamweight gold when Yan landed an illegal knee in the fourth round of their first bout at UFC 259 on March 6, initially wanted the rematch to happen in December after he had surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his neckl that had plagued him since his collegiate wrestling days. When the promotion pushed for the fight to be on the UFC 267 card, Sterling did his best to get ready for that date.

“I originally wanted to fight in December but the plans were pushed up earlier,” Sterling wrote. “Unfortunately, my body isn’t agreeing with me and I asked for an extension and asked for Petr Yan to wait, so that I will be the first man in the UFC to beat his ass.

The promotion is reportedly in talks to book Yan in an interim title bout against Cory Sandhagen, although that fight has yet to be finalized. Sterling revealed that he has brought in Adrian Yanez as a gauge to see if he could be ready by Oct. 30. For now, it appears that the UFC has moved on from the fight.

“I flew in Adrian Yanez to help with training looks,” Sterling wrote. “I want to see how this week goes and see if overtraining was the real issue for all the fatigue, since I was playing physical “catch-up” for fighting much sooner than expected.

“Thankfully the UFC team understands how serious spine surgery can be and are allowing me the extra time to get my body right so that there are NO EXCUSES when I fight again.”

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