The return of former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) double champion, Henry Cejudo, has created quite the buzz heading into UFC 288 tomorrow night (Sat., May 6, 2023) live on ESPN+ PPV from Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Cejudo will be coming back after a three-year layoff to fight current UFC bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, for the undisputed 135-pound title.
As one of the most outspoken and cringe-worthy fighters in all of combat sports Cejudo is either liked or hated. There’s really no in between. Some members of the combat community were excited to see “Triple C” end his retirement to come back and fight Sterling, while others scoffed at the idea of Cejudo returning to a title shot. It really just depends on who you ask.
Reigning UFC middleweight champion and pound-for-pound standout, Israel Adesanya, is not part of the collection of fighters supporting Cejudo this weekend at UFC 288. Surprisingly, “Last Stylebender” has some sort off beef with Cejudo and will be picking Sterling to retain his title in New Jersey.
“I’m gonna pick ‘Aljo’ because I don’t like Henry,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel (h/t MMA Fighting). “See, I don’t have to make no bulls*** up and try to justify it. I’ll just say I don’t like the munchkin, I don’t like Henry Cejudo. Yeah, I said your name. Little f****** b****.
“For me, it’s like for such a smart man he lets his emotions cloud his judgment and he starts to get real hater vibes because he thinks that me being great takes away from his greatness. I’m like, nah. You’re great in your own lane. You do your f****** thing. You can do your f****** thing, king — cringe king.
“Yeah. I’mma go ‘Aljo’ and not just ‘Aljo’ for no reason,” he continued. “I really think ‘Aljo’ can beat him. But again, like I said, ‘Aljo’ right now I really think he’s [got the] momentum, he’s feeling himself, he knows he’s the champion and I think it’s gonna be one of those high-level fights.”
It’s surprising to hear Adesanya talk about Cejudo like he’s his own worst enemy, but I guess “Last Stylebender” expects more out of the former Olympic gold medalist. That said, Adesanya remains impressed with Cejudo’s fighting skills and his ability to improve his game over the years.
“I’ll tell you one thing. Henry’s different,” Adesanya said. “Henry’s able to learn. It’s not really about his skillset as a wrestler. For me, he’s able to learn. When he first got into the UFC, I knew he was an Olympic champ. I was like, he’s a wrestler. Then I watched his striking and I watched the way he flowed, the way he moved. The ability to learn, he has that. He’s a good student. He’s legit.
“I think Aljamain — his striking recently over the last few fights has elevated to a point where it’s just like he’s able to pick people apart and snipe them almost. I think when ‘Aljo’ gets on your back — I can’t. Especially when you’re Henry’s size. He hasn’t fought in three years. A lot of variables. If I was ‘Aljo,’ use your jab and set everything up.”
Do you agree? Are you siding with Izzy and picking Sterling over Cejudo?
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.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 288: “Sterling vs. Cejudo” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the updated and finalized UFC 288 fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.