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Morning Report: Henry Cejudo: Aljamain Sterling is ‘afraid of fighting a competitor like me’

UFC 280: Sterling v Dillashaw Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Henry Cejudo suddenly appears closer than ever to the title shot he’s been asking for since announcing his comeback.

UFC 280 has come and gone, but what has remained the same is Aljamain Sterling as the UFC bantamweight titleholder. Defeating T.J. Dillashaw via a one-sided second-round TKO with ground-and-pound strikes, Sterling successfully defended his throne for the second time.

Ahead of the bout’s fruition, speculation swirled aplenty regarding who might be the next opponent of Sterling’s. Along with Dillashaw’s name in the mix was former champion Henry Cejudo who revealed he’d be returning to action later in the year. While that has yet to happen, Cejudo has re-entered the USADA testing pool and is all good to officially come back, it’s just a matter of getting a fight.

“Triple C” has been vocal about his dream of capturing a third UFC title at featherweight, but with the champion Alexander Volkanovski seemingly set to challenge for lightweight gold, Cejudo is now back to targeting his old bantamweight strap.

“It should be me, honestly,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel regarding Sterling’s next challenger. “If Sean [O’Malley] would have beat this dude (Petr Yan) fair and square, I know I would have lost the title shot.

“If Aljamain really does want to fight me, let’s go, dude. I personally think he’s afraid of me. I think he’s afraid of fighting a competitor like me. I just think I’m too good. I think I’m too good for him, I don’t see his wrestling as a threat.”

Also at UFC 280 this past weekend, the “Sugar Show” delivered, proving many a doubter wrong whether or not he rightfully deserved his split decision nod over the former champion Yan. Heading into the bout, UFC President Dana White alluded to the winner likely being next in line for Sterling, and with the win, O’Malley vaults directly to the top of the contender list.

Immediately after the event, however, White addressed the media and threw out Cejudo’s name as an option, too. Therefore, creating even more intrigue in an already loaded 135-pound weight class.

“Dana White thinks this guy (O’Malley) won, he’s getting the next title shot,” Cejudo said. “So, with that being said, I’m sitting here licking my fingers because I see a lot of opportunities for myself. I am the best in the world and I am going to continue to be the best in the world. Those are my two cents.”

As one of the best-credentialed wrestlers MMA has ever seen, Cejudo doesn’t see much to be worried about in the also extremely talented grappler Sterling. Against Dillashaw, Sterling did what he does best, imposing his will on the former two-time champion and dominating him on the ground in all areas.

Unfortunately for Sterling, credit is being taken away from him by some in the community thanks to Dillashaw knowingly going into the bout with a bad shoulder injury. Cejudo feels the victory was legitimate, but at the same time also feels much is left to be desired from the current champion.

“It wasn’t really a fight,” Cejudo said. “T.J.’s shoulder kept going out, Aljamain got the job done, but I’m still not impressed with this guy. Hate me or whatever you guys want.

“Yeah, he beat T.J., but T.J. was literally going inside the octagon injured, pulling his shoulder out and still this man wasn’t able to finish him — or I think my biggest thing was that Aljamain wasn’t able to tell that this dude had a shoulder injury. As a fighter, as a killer, as a shark, you gotta see and look at things like that. He didn’t even see it. He literally gets tired. It took him that long to beat a dude up that has a dislocated shoulder. He got the job done, he got the stoppage, he got the TKO, but was T.J. healthy? It’s not realistic to say that.”


TOP STORIES

Target. Aljamain Sterling: UFC ‘looking for a last hope of someone’ who can beat me

Prospect. Muhammad Mokaev reveals illness prior to UFC 280 win over Malcolm Gordon: ‘That was 50 percent performance

Rankings. Islam Makhachev completes unstoppable run to lightweight supremacy, seizes No. 1 spot

Robbery Review. Sean O’Malley vs. Petr Yan at UFC 280

Nope. Dada 5000 ruled out of return in bare-knuckle bout after Florida commission shuts down fight

Rebuttal. Dan Hardy vents on slap fighting, responds to Dana White: ‘I don’t give a f*** what you think’

Hype. Patricio Pitbull, A.J. McKee among Bellator stars set to face RIZIN fighters on NYE show in Japan


VIDEO STEW

The MMA Hour.

UFC Vegas 63 promo.

Free fight.

Tyson Pedro reactions.

Breaking down Islam’s big win.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

The latest DDR looks fun.

Party time.

Don’t see that every day.

Moment.

Congrats!

GSP things.

Submission, knockout, or decision.

Good form.

Very happy.

...six months from now.

Interesting tweet.

New king.

Teamwork.

Con job?


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Cody Durden (13-4-1) vs. Carlos Mota (8-1); UFC Vegas 63, Oct. 29

Magomed Magomedkerimov (30-6) vs. Gleison Tibau (33-14); 2022 PFL Championship, Nov. 25

Bryce Mitchell (15-0) vs. Ilia Topuria (12-0); UFC 282, Dec. 10


FINAL THOUGHTS

Stylistically, Cejudo is an infinitely more intriguing matchup for Sterling than O’Malley. Aside from that, O’Malley’s win obviously wasn’t as clear as it could have been. There are a couple of different directions bantamweight can go, but I think I like Sterling vs. Cejudo and O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera 2 the best.

If we’re also being totally honest, those are probably the two best options to go with if you’re the UFC looking at it from a business and story perspective.

Thanks for reading!


POLL POSITION

Last Week’s Results:

Friday: 62% of 546 total votes answered “Dominick Reyes” when asked, “Who did you score the first fight for?Jon Jones defeated Reyes via unanimous decision in UFC 247’s main event in Feb. 2020.

Thursday: 54% of 509 total votes answered “Aljamain Sterling” when asked, “Who wins?” Sterling defeated T.J. Dillashaw via second-round TKO in UFC 280’s co-main event.

Wednesday: 68% of 654 total votes answered “Charles Oliveira” when asked, “Who wins this weekend?” Islam Makhachev defeated Oliveira via second-round submission (arm triangle) in UFC 280’s main event.

Tuesday: 55% of 505 total votes answered “No” when asked, “Is Deontay Wilder the most impressive knockout artist in boxing history?

Monday: 57% of 664 total votes answered “Yes” when asked, “If Charles Oliveira wins at UFC 280, is he the lightweight GOAT?

Today’s exit poll:

Poll

Who should be Aljamain Sterling’s next challenger?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Sean O’Malley
    (94 votes)
  • 50%
    Henry Cejudo
    (313 votes)
  • 32%
    Marlon "Chito" Vera
    (204 votes)
  • 2%
    Cory Sandhagen
    (14 votes)
625 votes total Vote Now

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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