Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo set to take place at UFC 287
The UFC is targeting a bantamweight championship bout between current champion Aljamain Sterling, and former champion Henry Cejudo. The fight is set to take place at UFC 287 on April 8.
If the fight does happen, it will be Cejudo’s first time in the octagon since May 9, 2020. His return will make an already compelling and competitive division even more interesting. The fight between he and Sterling has the potential to be a historic clash in the bantamweight division.
Cejudo ready and confident against current champ
After a near three-year absence from the UFC, a championship fight is a great return for Cejudo. The former flyweight and bantamweight champion has been asking for this fight for some time.
The Funkmaster and current champion, Sterling, has claimed to be healing from a partially torn bicep. Cejudo seems to think that this may not be the only reason the fight between the two has not happened yet.
Two days after his second round TKO of T.J. Dillashaw, Cejudo made some bold comments towards the champion on his podcast.
“The only thing I can say is that you’re straight up scared, you’re afraid of me, you’re scared of me,” Cejudo said. “I can sense it.”
The 35-year-old is clearly confident in his return to the octagon as he looks to end Sterling’s title reign in style.
Sterling has opportunity to silence doubters
This fight may be Sterling’s best opportunity to get the respect a champion usually has from the MMA community.
A convincing win against Henry Cejudo would cement Sterling as a legitimate champion. He won the belt after suffering an illegal knee in the fifth round to then champion, Petr Yan. After taking a year off because of the injury, Sterling won a controversial split decision rematch. His most recent title defense against Dillashaw, though the largest headline surrounded Dillashaw’s shoulder issues and retirement.
Despite the questions around how legit of a champion Sterling is, like Cejudo, he feels confident about the fight.
Less than a month after Cejudo made comments on his podcast, the current champ returned the favor.
“Okay, he has the wrestling advantage on paper,” Sterling said regarding the contrast in fighting styles. “If it’s a wrestling match they say he would win, even though I don’t think so.”
The only thing for certain about the fight between Sterling and Cejudo is that one of these fighters is overconfident.
Bantamweight division the most unpredictable in 2023?
While the matchup of these two fighters is compelling, a lot can happen in two and a half months. The bantamweight division may have the most contenders ready to go for the belt of any division.
Fourth-ranked Chito Vera and fifth-ranked Cory Sandhagen are set to fight next month. First-ranked Sean O’Malley won a split decision over former champion, Petr Yan, who is set to fight third-ranked Merab Dvalishvili in March.
By the time the fight between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo eventually does happen, the bantamweight division landscape will be even more competitive than it currently is.
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