clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Aljamain Sterling suggests UFC book Cejudo vs. O’Malley for interim belt: ‘I’m not mad’

A biceps injury may stop “Funkmaster” from fighting at UFC 285, and if it does, he’s more than fine with UFC booking an interim Bantamweight title fight that night.

UFC 273: Sterling v Yan 2 Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

UFC 285, which will take place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., March 4, 2023, now has a massive headline fight: the return of Jon Jones, competing for the vacant Heavyweight title against former interim champion, Ciryl Gane.

Now, we’re waiting to see whether a second title fight will be added to the ESPN+-streamed pay-per-view (PPV) card.

The leading contender right now is Bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, against former double-champ and Olympic gold medalist, Henry Cejudo. But, a partially torn biceps injury has Sterling on the fence about whether he can make the date.

Considering Sterling gets a cut of the PPV, he has a few million reasons to say, “Yes!” to a fight at UFC 285 now that Jones is on the card as well. But, he’s clearly concerned the biceps issue will keep him from being able to wrestle Cejudo to the best of his ability.

Sterling laid out his thought process regarding the possible fight on the latest episode of The MMA Hour.

“I told the matchmakers, I’m like, ‘Hey I’m already feeling better. Let’s just stay on this and see what happens.’ In the meantime, I can run even though I hate running, I ran twice last week, which is a big step up from zero, kicking the bag, just staying off my arm, not wrestling, not doing stuff that’s gonna agitate it.

“Of course if I’m going to be fighting a guy like Henry Cejudo I would like to be able to push the pace in wrestling, because a guy like that, you have to be able to wrestle and you have to be able to push a hard pace for 25 minutes,” Sterling added.

Honestly, based on everything Sterling has been saying over the past few weeks, it doesn’t sound like he’s feeling ready to go in six weeks. During the interview, he suggested he’d be fine with UFC setting up an interim title fight between Cejudo and Sean O’Malley.

“If Henry wants to wait for me, he can wait,” Sterling said. “Or, if he wants to take the easier fight, what he thinks to be the easier fight against Sean, if he wants to go beat up Sean, go beat up Sean.

“I’m saying if Henry wants to wait for me, we can fight,” he added. “But, if ‘I don’t want to wait any longer, give me a fight right now,’ maybe they do an interim. I’m not mad at an interim, at the end of the day, an interim means both guys get paid because they are going to now have a belt and entitles to pay-per-view points. I’m in favor of anyone on pay-per-view on the main card to get pay-per-view points.”

If physical therapy doesn’t fix the issue with his biceps, Sterling said he’d have to undergo surgery, which could keep him out for up to seven months. Considering the injury is one Sterling has been fighting with since the second Petr Yan fight, it may not be something that regular rehab will fix anymore.

So ... what do you think, Maniacs? Cejudo vs. O’Malley for the interim Bantamweight belt? Or, would you prefer seeing a Marlon Vera vs. Sean O’Malley rematch for the strap? Let us know in the comments.


To check out the latest and greatest UFC 285 fight card and rumors click here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania