The mixed martial arts (MMA) community is still awaiting an Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight title fight to be made official.
Both fighters have already come out and said they’ll be facing off next, it’s just a matter of when. March 2023 seems like a likely target date and, according to Cejudo speaking on his YouTube channel, he’s all signed, ready to go, and is just waiting on the current champion.
Also waiting for his shot is No. 1-ranked contender, Sean O’Malley, who expects to fight the winner of the match up. Despite the frustrating delay of the title picture moving along, O’Malley understands where reservations may be coming from.
“Two fights a year minimum is kind of what I’m wanting,” O’Malley said on TimboSugarShow. “Maybe July, December ... that’s what I did [in 2022]. We’ll see. Still nothing [on the title fight]. ‘Aljo’ posted a picture and said training for ‘Sugar’ or something. Henry’s going out there and saying, ‘Hey, done deal on my part. Whenever. February, March, April, whenever.’
“So, it is ‘Aljo’ that’s not taking the fight,” he continued. “We’ve talked about it several times. I don’t think it’s money. I think it’s literally he doesn’t want to get into camp. For me, it’s like, if I was in a mindset where I’m like, ‘I don’t want to go into camp.’ I’ve been in those mindsets where I’m not mentally ready to go into a f—king camp. That would suck, and he’s getting forced into this fight. He’s probably enjoying being champ because he knows it isn’t gonna last long.”
Sterling and O’Malley picked up their most recent victories on the same card, UFC 280, in Oct. 2022. Before Sterling defended his title for the second time, defeating T.J. Dillashaw via second round technical knockout with ground-and-pound punches (watch highlights), O’Malley earned a massive split decision nod over Petr Yan (watch highlights). Cejudo, on the other hand, is coming out of a retirement that followed his May 2020 title defense against Dominick Cruz.