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Midnight Mania! UFC 288’s Henry Cejudo reveals hit list: sucky Sterling, privileged O’Malley, champion Volkanovski

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When Henry Cejudo makes the walk to fight Aljamain Sterling this Saturday (May 6, 2023) at UFC 288 from inside Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, it will be three days shy of three years since his last fight. Cejudo starched Dominick Cruz and then retired as champion, but it didn’t take long for “The Messenger” to start talking about a potential return.

His return didn’t actually get scheduled until the opening to fight Sterling materialized. Why? In the view of the former double champion, Sterling is “easy money,” though Cejudo should be wary about what happened the last time he used that phrase.

“[I came back] because it’s easy money,” Cejudo said Wednesday at UFC 288 media day (via MMAFighting). “I watched these guys fight after coaching some of the best guys in the world — [Jon] Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Zhang Weili, Deiveson Figueiredo, Jiri Prochazka — I started to understand my talent a little bit more.

“I know there is a window. I know there is a gap where I really do have to say goodbye. I’m 36 years old or 36 years young, and I feel good. I feel really good. I love the challenge. I love that people are going to doubt me. I think that’s another reason why I’m back too. I love being the underdog like I’ve been my whole life, and I think that’s why. And I personally think Aljamain just sucks.”

That’s why Cejudo’s back, but what’s the future look like for the Olympian? For years now, he’s been targeting a fourth belt, the one that rests upon the shoulder of Alexander Volkanovski. “The Great” is one of the very best pound-for-pound fighters alive, the exact type of challenge Cejudo desires to become “C4.”

Before that, however, he wants to beat up Sean O’Malley, who’s presumed next-in-line for a Bantamweight title shot.

“I wouldn’t mind two tune-ups before I go against Alexander Volkanovski,” Cejudo said. “Sean O’Malley, he’s that dirty Q-tip, he’s a privileged brat. I think we all know that, and I’m going to hurt him. But first things first, Aljamain is first. I know he’s confident, but I know deep down inside that he respects me a little too much. He’s going to see that competitor once the cage locks, he’s going to look into my eyes and he’s going to see what I’m made out of. Sean O’Malley is next and I like that fight. I love the fact that he’s tall, I love the fact that he’s popular, and I’m going to hurt that dude.

“Right away [after UFC 288], I want O’Malley.”

LIVE! Watch UFC 298 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

WORLD FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., Feb. 17, 2024, for the first time in more than two years with its latest pay-per-view (PPV) show. In the ESPN+-streamed PPV main event, reigning Featherweight roost-ruler, Alexander Volkanovski, will defend his 145-pound strap against undefeated surging Spanish contender, Ilia Topuria. In addition, former Middleweight kingpin, Robert Whittaker, will finally square off with mercurial mauler, Paulo Costa, in UFC 298’s co-feature. UFC 298 will also feature the returns of Ian Garry, Geoff Neal, Henry Cejudo, Merab Dvalishvili and so much more!

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