This leaves the UFC’s bantamweight division in a bit of a stalemate. Cejudo’s injury has already ruled him out for the rest of the year, meaning he likely won’t even defend his flyweight belt until 2020. His bantamweight title defense will have to come after that.
Speaking to Planet MMA, UFC bantamweight Aljamain Sterling discussed his status as the rightful next contender to Cejudo’s 135-pound title. Sterling, ranked No. 2 and riding a four fight win streak, believes that an interim title fight makes the most sense given Cejudo’s time frame.
“I’m not really sure what’s going to happen,” says Sterling. “Cejudo’s going to be out for awhile, he’s not fighting for the remainder of this year. I would think the most logical thing after he defends, or loses, his belt at [flyweight], then something would have to happen at bantamweight… so I think the smart play would be to do an interim title.”
If the bantamweight interim title fight does come to fruition, Sterling should be a shoo-in given his rank and his recent performances. When asked about who he might face for the potential interim belt, “Funk Master” had this to say:
“I don’t know. I don’t make those calls, but I think the two guys that make the most sense would be myself and Petr Yan.”
In a matchup against Yan, Sterling thinks he possesses some significant advantages over the No. 4 ranked Russian.
“I think I’m faster, I think I have more ways to win. I can keep it standing, I can win in the clinch, I can make it a dirty fight. I think I have the wrestling advantage and I think I have the ground-game advantage. I have more tools to win, I know he hits hard, but you have to land. I’m not one to be there to be hit.”
“He’s got some good skills,” Sterling continued. “He’s definitely well-rounded. He’s primarily a boxer and he doesn’t really throw a ton of kicks. I don’t think he knows what it feels like to have his legs chopped down and I think that would be the difference in the fight.”
What do you think? Will Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan fight for the interim bantamweight title? When will Cejudo return from his injury? Let us know in the comments!