UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has revealed his timetable for his return to the Octagon after opting for neck surgery.
Sterling became the new UFC 135lbs champion last month at UFC 259 when he defeated Petr Yan via first-round DQ after the Russian finished the fight with an illegal knee. The two rivals were fully expected to rematch in the coming months once both men recovered from the fight, but it appears as though the rematch is going to have to wait. That’s because Sterling is opting to get neck surgery. Speaking on his “Weekly Scraps” podcast, Sterling explained why he is getting the surgery now and said when he will be able to fight again.
“I was trying to avoid going under the knife but we’re back on schedule. We’re going to get an artificial disc replacement done. There are two procedures, the fusion or the artificial disc replacement. We decided to go with the artificial disc replacement just to keep more of the flexibility of the neck and not put more stress with the fusion on the disc that is a level above or below. Because when you take away the motion and it fuses, you put more stress on the discs above or below or sometimes both,” Sterling said (h/t MMAFighting.com).
“It’s not going to be nine months,” Sterling said of his timeframe for recovery. “I don’t know why people keep saying that, who keeps spreading these lies. But it’s like the UFC has a mole that just tells stuff that they don’t know is actually true. I’m not doing the fusion. I’m not going to be out for nine months. I’m probably going to be fighting around August, September, October. We’ll see how well my body takes and how good of a shape I can get in. Obviously the more time the better but I can ease my way into it.”
If Sterling will be out until the late summer or fall timeframe, the UFC may just opt to hold out Yan until then. However, if the promotion believes Sterling’s road to recovery will be longer than he expects, the promotion may opt to create an interim belt in the meantime.
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