Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling believes the UFC is bringing back Henry Cejudo for a reason.
‘Funk Master’ is fresh off his title defense against T.J. Dillashaw last weekend at UFC 280. In that outing, Sterling scored a second-round stoppage after the challenger suffered a shoulder injury. Following that win, the champion called out many names in his post-fight interview.
One of the names that he called for was former dual-weight champion Henry Cejudo. ‘Triple C’ has been out of action since May 2020, when he defeated Dominick Cruz. Following that victory, Cejudo relinquished his bantamweight title and decided to retire.
However, the former Olympic wrestler unretired earlier this year and enrolled in the USADA testing pool. Prior to UFC 280, Dana White seemed uninterested in Cejudo fighting for gold anytime soon. Instead, the promoter proposed that the winner of Petr Yan vs. Sean O’Malley would get a title shot.
‘Sugar’ wound up winning by a controversial split decision last weekend. Despite the promise of a title shot, White instead proposed that Cejudo return, and challenge Sterling next.
Aljamain Sterling believes that Dana White’s comments about Henry Cejudo were motivated. That motivation is to try and get the title off of him, as he opined in a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.
“I like Dana on a personal level, outside of the cameras and everything, I like Dana,” Sterling said. “But some of the things he actually says are beyond me sometimes. You go on record, you say whoever wins [the O’Malley-Yan] fight is clearly getting the No. 1 shot because it makes sense. After the fight, everything completely changes and then you throw Henry ‘Cedoodoo’ in the mix and I’m just completely confused because this guy hasn’t fought in over two years.” (h/t MMAFighting)
He continued, “You don’t want to give him a [featherweight] title shot to go be triple champ, which I’m not opposed to because I think if anyone deserves it based on merit, it’s him. I’m not a hater by any means. But then the guy comes back after two years, fought at 125, fought twice maybe at ‘35, and he’s supposed to come back and get an immediate title shot after doing what?”
“So now it’s like I almost feel—and I could be completely wrong—I almost feel like they’re looking for a last hope of someone who can take out Aljamain Sterling. They’re hoping that they can make this narrative of the Olympic wrestling now. D-1 wasn’t good enough, now the Olympic wrestling might be good enough to take out the D-3 wrestler. But I can tell you one thing for certain, this ass-whooping is an equal-opportunity employer. All races, all colours can get it. It really doesn’t matter. If it’s Henry, if it’s ‘Chito’ [Marlon Vera] from Ecuador, if it’s O’Malley with the colorful hair, Mr. Sugar T***, if it’s a rematch with Yan because we know the UFC likes to give title shots to people coming off of losses, if they want to give it to [Cory] Sandhagen, there’s plenty of options.”
Currently, it’s not known if Dana White will make Aljamain Sterling fight Henry Cejudo next. However, the rivalry between the two is already heating up after the former champion pledged the championship back to America. That’s in spite of the fact that Sterling is from New York.
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