Aljamain Sterling isn’t keen on the idea of going overseas to defend his UFC bantamweight title against Petr Yan. Anyway, he’s not going to make a stink about it.
According to UFC president Dana White, the promotion is targeting the Aljamain Sterling (20-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) vs. Yan (15-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) rematch for October, which would line up with UFC 267 on Oct. 30, which is expected for Abu Dhabi.
Making that type of travel isn’t attractive to Sterling, especially when the organization has events targeted for his home state of New York in November, as well as a December show in Las Vegas, where he currently lives.
“To be 100 percent honest with you, I love the date, but I don’t love the location,” Aljamain Sterling told MMA Junkie Radio on Thursday. “Mainly because of the hours we would have to fight at. I just had one of my worst performances – maybe not the worst – but I had some hiccups on fight day because I didn’t realize how much into the day I fought. … It would’ve been nice to fight in New York or Vegas again. But Oct. 30, I’m good with that.”
Although Sterling vocalized his opposition to the location, he said he’s not willing to make a hard stance. He admitted he’s had his spats with the UFC brass before but doesn’t want to start another one with White over his lack of desire to travel to the Middle East.
“I think you guys know how it goes with telling Dana White no, so I don’t think there’s much negotiation here,” Sterling said. “If I’m being 100 percent honest and transparent, I don’t think they’re going to give me an opportunity to negotiate that. I’m not looking to get in a pissing war with Dana again. So if that’s what they want, that’s what they want.”
Regardless of where it happens, though, Sterling said he’s looking forward to getting his hands on Yan again. The pair had a highly controversial first meeting, with Yan getting disqualified for an illegal knee and thus giving up the belt to Sterling.
Sterling underwent neck surgery in the aftermath of the fight but said he’s days away from getting clearance to get back into training, and will be ready to fight in the fall.
“I don’t keep grudges, but when someone is a sh*tty person, I just don’t want to be around you,” Sterling said. “So, I’m all about good energy, good vibrations. At the end of the day we’re going to have a fight. We’re going to go out there and settle the score, and we’ll be able to figure it out. If we’re meant to be friends or meant to be cordial, then we’ll do that. But at the end of the day I have no respect for this guy right now. The guy talks so much sh*t for something that he did, and I get the backlash for it, which is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”