Aljamain Sterling will not be defending his bantamweight title against Henry Cejudo at UFC 284 after revealing to MMA Junkie that he won’t be returning until mid-2023 at the earliest.
Sterling was linked to a fight with Cejudo in Perth, Australia but ‘Funk Master’ wants some time off following his one-sided beatdown and second-round TKO of T.J. Dillashaw this past Saturday at UFC 280.
Sterling will not only be taking some much-needed time off to recover but has no intention of returning to defend his bantamweight championship against Cejudo despite the latter’s desperate and repeated pleas for a title shot.
The Serra-Longo product would much prefer to fight Sean O’Malley as he believes ‘Sugar’ is a bigger name than ‘Triple C’ and a much more exciting matchup from a fan’s perspective.
“I’m not fighting until mid-year next year,” Sterling, who is 2-0 in title defenses, said. “So, I don’t know what anybody is talking about. You’re gonna need to move me to get me to get back into a training camp. So, good luck with that. I earned my time off so Henry can go kick rocks. Let me ask you, are you excited to see Sterling vs. Cejudo? Are you most excited about that matchup for the next title shot at 135? Is that the biggest fight for you as a fan of the sport?”
“I want the biggest fight because I get pay-per-view points. The moment I lose the belt, I don’t get pay-per-view points. So I want the biggest fight, and if it’s Cejudo, I gladly oblige. But, I don’t think it’s him. I really don’t. I even feel like people would be more excited to see me fight ‘Chito’ (Vera) over Cejudo.”
“It seems like as a whole Sean just draws better than Cejudo,” he added. “He hasn’t fought in almost three years. I’m only pointing out the negatives. Outside of his credentials, for a die-hard, I’d be excited about that fight. But other than that, in terms of financial, I want the biggest fight which is typically the fight the fans want to see the most. I feel it’s the Sean O’Malley fight, but again, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.”
Cejudo predictably responded on social media by accusing Sterling of ducking him and once again dismissing his UFC 280 TKO victory over Dillashaw.
Hey Allshitstain… @funkmasterMMA Are you really gonna count your victory over the Gimp as a win? Surprised you didn’t call out Oscar Pistorius afterwards. I know you gotta work on your cardio but don’t run from me for 8 months.— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) October 28, 2022
“Hey Allshitstain… @funkmasterMMA Are you really gonna count your victory over the Gimp as a win? Surprised you didn’t call out Oscar Pistorius afterwards. I know you gotta work on your cardio but don’t run from me for 8 months,” Cejudo Tweeted.
Former two-division champ and Olympic gold medalist Cejudo re-entered USADA’s drug-testing pool in April and is expected to return to competition next year, although his opponent has yet to be decided. He is no longer ranked at bantamweight or flyweight but was formerly considered one of the greatest fighters in the sport.