UFC bantamweight rivals Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling have taken their regular trading of insults up a notch as a new date for their rescheduled title rematch was set.

The 135lbs stars have been at each other’s throats since the Russian was disqualified and robbed of his crown at UFC 259 last March for dropping an illegal knee on the grounded Jamaican-American.

They were set for a second meeting late in 2021, but Sterling pulled out to undergo neck surgery, which forced Yan to become the interim champion in the meantime by seeing off contender Cory Sandhagen via a dominant unanimous decision win on Halloween weekend.

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With Sterling now recovered, there can be no more excuses as their sequel has been penciled in for UFC 273 at the Barclay’s Center on April 9 – as confirmed by the fighter himself.

‘The Funkmaster’, though, suggested it was Yan who has held things up, possibly due to being unvaccinated, and not Sterling with his injury.

“They are talking about pushing our fight back to April,” Sterling told subscribers to his podcast.

“Not because of me, this is what I was told: Yan isn’t vaccinated so he can’t fight in March.

“If this is the real reason, I actually respect his stance – but it doesn’t make any sense. Is he gonna be vaccinated in April? I don’t think so.

“So what are we doing? I just want to know when we’re fighting because I just want to punch each other in the face. Hopefully we can figure this out sooner, rather than later. We can unify these belts and see who’s really ‘the guy’.”

Taking the accusations over to social media, Sterling said: “I guess Chetr and I are even now in pulling out of fights for serious injuries. Oh wait… ‘personal reasons’ isn’t an injury I’m coming for your boy! Trust me!” 

On Instagram, Sterling seemed more certain on an actual date too while appearing to show a contract from the UFC on his mobile phone. 

“April 9th, we will boil, bake, then fry that potato-head Chetr!” he wrote. “PS: They pushed the fight back because of Yan, not me.” 

Defending his corner, Yan fired back by calling Sterling a “pathetic liar desperately trying to look good and control the narrative.”

“But it won’t work,” added Yan. “I’m vaccinated and ready to bash you anywhere even tomorrow. [The] UFC simply doesn’t want [a] fake champion to headline the event.”

“I’m only repeating what I was told from the bosses,” claimed Sterling. “Don’t get your potato t*ts in a twist!

“I’d happily f**k you up tomorrow too. That can easily be arranged,” he vowed, before calling Yan a ‘mouse’ in Russian.

“Yan said he’s vaccinated. So someone is telling lies Either way I can’t wait to properly beat this man’s a**,” Sterling said elsewhere.

Uploading a video of blood submitted to the USADA, Sterling also demanded that Yan “play by the rules” and called him “Pete the Cheat”.

A follower wildly suggested that the delays to the rematch might also be due to Yan needing “time to come off his Russian super soldier serum.”

“Personally that’s what I believe,” Sterling replied.

“[It’s the] second time something convenient comes up for a fight to be pushed for Yan.

“He’s claiming he’s vaccinated already. So why did the brass push the fight back? One can only wonder, right? December 12th now the March 5th fight.”

“Actually we were told that the fight was moved to April 9 so they could have a backup ready when you pull out again, b***h,” Yan blazed back to this, as Sterling pondered the availability of formerly-banned TJ Dillashaw, who he called “Needleshaw”.

“The fact that you’re delusional enough to think another fighter is ‘bitching out’ against you tickles my balls more than it will when I drop them on your face April 9th,” responded Sterling.

“Every last word you say will be hilarious to say to you as I p**s pound your face from full mount.”

With just under three months to go until fight night, be prepared for more of the same and worse in the build-up to one of the most anticipated sequel fights in years.

As Yan implied, it comes on a card that is co-headlined by featherweight ruler Alexander Volkanovski’s showdown with Chan Sung Jung after Max Holloway had to back out of a trilogy bout with the Aussie.

While for Sterling this will be a first title defense, Yan can reclaim the strap he captured in July 2020 by beating Jose Aldo and may face the rising Brazilian again or Dillashaw in a legacy fight if he is crowned once more.

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