Aljamain Sterling has been “tortured” by MMA fans for more of his title reign.
That’s according to longtime striking coach Ray Longo, who doesn’t expect haters to take their foot off the gas when “Funk Master” retains his bantamweight title by defeating former division champion Henry Cejudo in the upcoming UFC 288 pay-per-view (PPV) main event on May 6 in Newark, New Jersey.
In fact, Longo is already predicting the post-fight excuses.
“If Aljo wins this fight, ‘Henry had a three-year layoff, he didn’t fight for three years.’ What do you think? ‘He was rusty.’ It doesn’t matter, you know what I mean?” Longo told MMA Junkie Radio. “I think Aljo’s smart enough, he’s just gonna fight one fight at a time, take his money, and be very, very happy and grateful for everything he has. I don’t even know if there is a chip on his shoulder now. He’s just very, very happy to be in the position he’s in, and he’s just gonna enjoy himself. I don’t even think he’s putting pressure on himself, to be honest with you, because there’s always gonna be something. It’s never clean.”
Sterling (22-3) had a less eloquent take on the never-ending hate.
Cejudo (16-2) has not competed since planishing Dominick Cruz as part of the UFC 249 PPV back in May 2020. “Triple C,” who also held gold at 125 pounds, briefly flirted with retirement before announcing his not-so-surprising return early last year. The winner could move on to face top contender Sean O’Malley in late 2023.
“Sugar” is expected to be in attendance at UFC 288 ... just not as a broke backup.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 288 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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