UFC president Dana White explained his thought process behind the UFC 267 interim bantamweight belt, saying “we had to do the interim title.”
Sterling defeated Yan via fourth-round DQ back at UFC 259 in May to become the new UFC bantamweight champion. The UFC booked the rematch to take place at UFC 267 in October, but the fight was canceled when Sterling pulled out due to injuries. With Sterling out of the fight, the UFC called upon top contender Cory Sandhagen to take on Yan at UFC 267. And despite the bantamweight title being fought for six months ago, the promotion decided that the best course of action was to make a new interim title fight at UFC 267.
Speaking to reporters following Tuesday night’s Contender Series, White explained why the UFC decided to create an interim title fight between Yan and Sandhagen at UFC 267.
“We had to do the interim title. If you look at how that fight (with Sterling at UFC 259) ended, Yan is ready to go, Sterling doesn’t know when he going to be ready, doesn’t know when his leg is going to be healed, doesn’t know when he’s going to get the doctors’ clearance, so an interim title makes sense,” White said.
Purists of the sport may not agree with the UFC’s decision to give two fighters coming off of a loss the title fight, but you have to look closer at both fighters’ last fights. With Yan, he was beating Sterling before the unfortunate DQ. As for Sandhagen, many people thought he beat TJ Dillashaw in July, so despite him officially getting the loss on the scorecards, it still makes sense that he gets to fight for the belt with Dillashaw currently out. In a perfect world, Yan and Sandhagen will fight for the belt, and the winner will fight Sterling next.
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