Shortly after capturing the title against Petr Yan in March, Sterling underwent surgery for a neck injury that he’d been carrying for over 10 years. Thanks to a faster than expected recovery, the duo were set to run it back at UFC 267 on October 28.
But late last month, Aljamain was forced to pull out the bout thanks to lingering issues from the surgery, including fatigue and cramp, which have hampered his ability to train. The surgery has however proved successful, according to the 32-year-old, who took to Instagram to say that “this is the BEST I’ve ever felt,” and for the first time in a decade, he’s free of nerve pain.
Sterling Reveals “Very Scary” Thoughts About Ending His Career
The 135 pound division will forge ahead in Sterling’s absence, with Yan now set to face Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267 for the interim belt. But it may be some time before the victor can challenge for the real one.
Speaking to The MMA Hour, Sterling said he still doesn’t know how long it will take to fully recover from his surgery, and he admitted that this limbo has seen him entertain thoughts of retiring from MMA.
“If I’m being honest, I have had those thoughts,” said Sterling when asked if he’s thought of retiring. “Before I took the days off, I was like, I’m just wondering if this is just it, I’m never gonna be able to actually push past this. And it was a very scary thing. But then I was trying to keep the optimism because the doctor said it usually takes 12-18 months for everything to really get back to where it can be. Everyone’s different, you know? He thinks I heal really fast just from a strength standpoint, but obviously, the other parts are still doing its thing where it’s not firing the right way. And I think it’s just gonna come back with time. So to answer your question, I was concerned with potentially having a career-ending surgery. And it would’ve been very unfortunate to go out like that.”
While Sterling’s thoughts of early retirement may have dogged him in his darker moments, he went on to say that he’s optimistic about making a full return at the highest level.
What do you think? Will Aljamain Sterling bounce back and successfully defend his title?