Henry Cejudo, the former UFC bantamweight champion, is ready to make his return to the octagon and dive right back into the title picture. Following a narrow-split decision loss to current champion Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288, Cejudo has set his sights on a potential interim title fight against rising star Sean O'Malley if Sterling is unable to compete.
Scheduled for UFC 292 on August 19, Sterling's upcoming title defence against O'Malley has been met with uncertainty. The champion has expressed the need to assess his body before committing to the fight, leading UFC President Dana White to question why he accepted the bout in the first place.
In response to this uncertainty, Cejudo has proposed a high-stakes interim fight against O'Malley.
“If Aljamain Sterling is playing this game that he’s not ready, he needs a little more time, (then) let’s make an interim fight between me and Sean O’Malley,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “It’s a bigger fight, it’s what the UFC wanted initially. It’s the same reason why they brought me out to chase and beat Aljamain Sterling.
“Yeah, OK, I took a loss. Split decision, I’ll take it on the chin, but there’s still an opportunity there for me. After a three-year layoff, coming back, losing by split decision, being ranked now No. 3, that puts me in a really good position. I wanted Merab, and I’m still willing to wait for Merab. But if that fight with Sean O’Malley happens to open up, I’m 100 percent in, Dana White.”
Expressing his willingness to wait for a matchup against Merab Dvalishvili, Cejudo is open to seizing the opportunity to face O'Malley, considering it a bigger fight for both him and the UFC. He believes that an interim title fight would be a fitting way to continue his quest for gold.
In an unexpected turn, Cejudo has also offered to serve as a backup for the Sterling vs. O'Malley title fight. Although it deviates from his usual approach, Cejudo recognizes that without the championship belt around his waist, this backup role could be his pathway back to the gold. He emphasizes the need for appropriate compensation and intends to discuss the matter with his manager, Ali Abdelaziz.
As the MMA world eagerly awaits Sterling's decision and the fate of UFC 292, Henry Cejudo's bold suggestions have added an intriguing twist to the bantamweight division. Whether he secures the interim title fight against O'Malley or assumes the role of backup, one thing is clear—Cejudo is determined to reclaim his throne and reignite his championship journey.