UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling feels Henry Cejudo is serious about another fight, but questions his motives.
Sterling defeated Cejudo via split decision in the UFC 288 headliner earlier this month. He successfully defended the title for the third time after defeating former champions Petr Yan and TJ Dillashaw.
The buildup to his fight with Cejudo was prolonged by the anticipation of Cejudo’s long-awaited return to the Octagon. Three years after retiring at UFC 249, Cejudo returned for a chance at reclaiming the bantamweight title, but fell short.
After losing on the judges’ scorecards, Cejudo hinted at a return to retirement. Hours later, he called out Sterling’s teammate, Merab Dvalishvili, for his next UFC fight.
Despite Cejudo flip-flopping on the state of his career, Sterling feels Cejudo’s callout of Dvalishvili was calculated and legitimate.
Aljamain Sterling Spoke With MMANews About Henry Cejudo’s Next Move
During an exclusive interview with MMANews, Sterling gave his thoughts on Cejudo calling out Dvalishvili and the chances that he’ll fight again.
“I think he’s in a good spot. The way I think he’s looking at it is, if he beats the No. 1 contender, he gets right back into a championship situation,” Sterling said. “We had a close fight, I guess to play devil’s advocate, if I were to lose to Sean [O’Malley] in my next one, it would give Cejudo a chance to jump right back into a championship opportunity.
“It’s not a bad idea, but I do think he’s got a tall task ahead of him if he thinks he can just walk past Merab. He thought the same thing with me, I do think he underestimated me…and I think he might be building the very same thing against Merab. If he thinks my gas tank wasn’t gonna hold up, good luck with [Merab].”
Before retiring, Cejudo earned the flyweight and bantamweight titles to cement himself as an all-time great. He defended the bantamweight belt at UFC 249 before deciding to hang up the gloves.
Dvalishvili has been on a roll with nine straight wins, including dominant performances against Yan and José Aldo. Once Sterling moves up to featherweight, he’ll be one of the top contenders to fight for the vacant bantamweight title.
Sterling will likely face Sean O’Malley for his next title defense later this year. He’s gone on record as saying that he plans to move to featherweight after the fight against O’Malley.
Sterling and Cejudo have a complicated relationship, but Sterling feels the former two-division champion is here to stay in the UFC.
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