UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling will have to wait a little longer to make his first title defense.
Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports that Sterling has been pulled from his scheduled bout against Petr Yan at UFC 267 on October 30 after he was denied medical clearance by doctors.
Sterling won the bantamweight title in March in controversial fashion, as Yan was disqualified for throwing an illegal knee. Yan looked to be in complete control of the fight and was on his way to beating Sterling before landing the illegal blow.
Sterling, who has a 20-3 record, then underwent surgery in April to address a lingering neck injury, and he said he has not fully recovered.
"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," Sterling wrote on Instagram. "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 said he was originally hoping to fight later in the year but chose to accept the fight in October. There is no official timetable for his return to the octagon.
"I originally wanted to fight in December but the plans were pushed up earlier," Sterling continued on Instagram. "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."
UFC 267 is still scheduled for October 30 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. There has been no official announcement on the change to the card, but the UFC is reportedly discussing the creation of an interim bantamweight title in Sterling's absence.
If an interim title is created, Yan will likely face bantamweight contender Cody Sandhagen. Sandhagen lost his most recent fight in July to TJ Dillashaw by split decision, but Dillashaw is recovering from knee surgery and would not be ready to compete at UFC 267.