Aljamain Sterling is defending the UFC bantamweight championship against Henry Cejudo.
The statement comes after Ali Abdelaziz recently informed John Morgan of The Underground that Sterling vs. Cejudo for 2023 was ‘done.’
“I’m announcing that I am going to fight Henry next,” said Sterling.
“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, you know what I mean? But it’s done, brother. But it’s still kind of not done but this is the fight that’s going to happen next.”
For Sterling, who was previously ‘not sold’ on Cejudo’s return to competition and the consequent elimination of any other prospective competitors, this is a complete about-face. After nearly three years out from the ring, the former two-division champion ‘Funk Master’ felt he deserved to face a strong challenger before getting another shot at the title.
After defeating Petr Yan, Sean O’Malley has emerged as the top contender, and if it were up to Sterling, he would be defending against him. Despite his preference for the name ‘Sugar’ over ‘Triple C,’ the Serra-Longo Fight Team alum is eager for the next bout.
“I like the matchup,” said Sterling.
“And 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 O’Malley possesses more of a threat of the 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.
“It’s always possible, but in all honesty, I just don’t see how Henry can find a shot that would put me out,” continued Sterling. “Unless I ran face first into his knee like I did against Marlon Moraes, which knock on wood, I don’t think that’s going to happen again.”