Aljamain Sterling is expected to make a quick turnaround and defend his bantamweight title against No. 2-ranked Sean O’Malley in the UFC 292 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, scheduled for Sat., Aug. 19, 2023 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
But the way Sterling has been jawing with UFC President Dana White in recent days has some combat sports fans wondering if the headlining affair will remain in place by the time the promotion makes its long-awaited return to “Beantown.”
If not, former champion Henry Cejudo is here to save the day.
“If Aljamain Sterling is playing this game that he’s not ready, he needs a little more time, let’s make an interim fight between me and Sean O’Malley,” Cejudo said on YouTube (transcribed by Farah Hannoun). “It’s a bigger fight, it’s what the UFC wanted initially. It’s the same reason why they brought me out to chase and beat Aljamain Sterling. After a three-year layoff, coming back, losing by split decision, being ranked now No. 3, that puts me in a really good position.”
Cejudo (16-3) came off the bench and battled Sterling to a five-round decision at UFC 288 earlier this month in Newark. “Triple C” came up short on the judges’ scorecards but didn’t lose much stock after an impressive performance that some of his contemporaries believe could have easily been scored in his favor.
The plan after UFC 288 was to cement another title shot by eliminating No. 1-ranked Merab Dvalishvili.
“I wanted Merab, and I’m still willing to wait for Merab, but if that fight with Sean O’Malley happens to open up, I’m 100 percent in,” the 36 year-old Cejudo continued. “Typically, I wouldn’t be the type of guy that would do things like that, but right now I don’t have the gold around my waist. So, if the UFC does want to have me as a backup, yeah. I’ve got to talk to (manager) Ali (Abdelaziz), and I do want to be compensated to be the backup fighter.”
Hopefully that compensation is an improvement over this “smaller paycheck.”