Aljamain Sterling claims that his next opponent is decided. The former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo will be the next challenger for the UFC bantamweight champion, who announced this on Thursday. There is no signed agreement, no event, and no date yet, according to Sterling, but it has been decided that Cejudo will be the next opponent.
The heated faceoff occurred this past Friday in New York during the 2022 PFL Championship game, and both Sterling and Cejudo were present.
“I’m announcing that I am going to fight Henry next,” Sterling said. “We are targeting March. I will say Ali, brother, it’s done but it’s still not done until there’s ink on the paper but it’s done. But it’s still kind of not done but this is the fight that’s going to happen next.
“This fight is going to happen. Obviously, you guys saw the face off with myself and Henry Cejudo. I have no problem fighting Henry. Never ducked anybody a day in my life. The UFC gives me the toughest competition and I always step up to the plate and I always win, except for that one time when I got sent to Neptune against Marlon Moraes. For the most part, I typically win.”
The video was prepared in reaction to recent words uttered by Ali Abdelaziz, promoter of Cejudo, to The Underground, in which he claimed that the championship match between Sterling and Cejudo was "done."
Sterling had previously stated, just two weeks before to UFC 281, that he was uninterested in fighting Cejudo. Additionally, the champion addressed the conflicting remarks, claiming that has since changed.
“Word, but I think now that it’s “real,” I’m getting up for it now,” Sterling wrote on Twitter.
The last time Sterling fought was in October, when he won the co-main event of UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi and attempted to defend his UFC bantamweight title against former champion T.J. Dillashaw. The 33-year-old has won eight straight fights, and his most recent loss came in the latter part of 2017. Sterling declared Sean O'Malley to be the more worthy candidate following his victory against former champion Petr Yan on the same card at UFC 280.
But it appears that the UFC chooses to give Cejudo the opportunity Cejudo hasn't competed in more over two years. He will be making his comeback from retirement, which followed his relinquishing of the bantamweight and flyweight belts in 2020 after a brief reign as a two-division champion. Cejudo, who is now 35, has gone six games without losing. In his last outing Cejudo defended his title against one of the best bantamweights, Dominick Cruz back in May 2020.
“I like the matchup,” Sterling said. “I think it’s going to be a fun fight for the fans. I think, on paper, it will be more competitive, even though I think skill wise I think [Sean] O’Malley possesses more of a threat of fight ending KO, if that makes sense. Henry can win the fight but I don’t think he wins by finish. I just can’t see myself losing to Henry by finish.