Former UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo demanded a spot on the upcoming UFC 292 pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, recently made official for Sat., Aug. 19, 2023 at TD Garden in Boston. Then “Triple C” slowly (but surely) sounded far less committed to the date when a shoulder injury started to slow his roll in practice.
A few days later, Cejudo withdrew from his Marlon Vera fight.
That decision did not sit well with reigning UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, who was pressured to commit to the “Beantown” headliner opposite No. 2-ranked title contender Sean O’Malley. In addition, “Aljizzlame” previously took some heat from Cejudo and Co. after delaying their championship showdown to deal with a biceps injury.
“Henry Cejudo is out of this fight. ‘The savage!’ Remember that? The savage? Texting Dana [White] saying, ‘If that little p**** doesn’t want to fight, I’ll take the fight?’ Isn’t it funny how the roles are reversed now and this ‘little savage’ is no longer a savage? Very interesting,” Sterling said. “For me, I call that being a dirty little weasel. You try to disparage my name in front of the fans and make it seem like I don’t want to fight, whatever, ‘the fight wasn’t that bad of a fight so you should be able to turn around.’ Guys, I’m telling you from experience, from a championship experience, defending multiple times... it’s very, very different getting ready for 25 minutes versus 15 minutes.”
“Henry wanted to be this big, bad tough guy and lie to the fans and make it seem like he was in it to win it, yay! But now look. Instead you look like an ass clown trying to pretend you’re something that you’re not,” Sterling said. “You’re human, bro. I’m human. I at least disclosed up front because I didn’t want to rob the fans of their hard-earned money, because I wanted to check out my injuries, and I fought you with my injuries prior to coming into the octagon! So who is really the savage? Who is really built like that? Because clearly, my man, it ain’t you. Respectfully.
“I just don’t like people trying to throw dirt on my name and then trying to act like it’s all good and gravy because bro, it ain’t,” Sterling continued. “Don’t do that. That’s a bad look. Don’t do that. If you’re going to talk like that, you’ve got to make that walk. I know ‘Chito’ (Vera) is tight because this is a fight that he was really, really looking forward to. He told me that personally. We already had our back-and-forth, but he told me after his [Cory] Sandhagen fight, ‘Please eff that little mothereffer up.’ And I said ‘I got you.’ That’s somebody he said he really wants to fight, especially for all the s***-talk that he had while he was on the sidelines.”
“Remember, this guy was out for three years, nursing all those injuries, doing all this stuff with stem cells,” Sterling said. “Guys, I fought with a torn labrum on the regional circuit. I fought seven pro fights. Yes, the level of competition wasn’t the same, you can make that argument, but I did it. Here I am, ready to compete and make that walk yet again, albeit not ideal for me. I think this is a savage, when you look at a savage. So when you speak about savagery, make sure you come correct and don’t miss when you’re talking about the king.”
Cejudo, 36, retired from MMA back in early 2020 after expressing dissatisfaction with his payouts. The Olympian would return three years later to challenge Sterling at UFC 288 last month in Newark, but ultimately came up short in his quest to recapture the bantamweight crown after five rounds of thrilling, back-and-forth action.
No word yet on when “Triple C” is expected to return.
As for Sterling, 33, the O’Malley fight will mark his fourth straight title defense and could serve as his bantamweight swan song. The 23-3 “Funk Master” has been teasing an eventual jump to 145 pounds to help eliminate the difficult weight cuts that have plagued him throughout his championship run.
Vera, meanwhile, awaits a new assignment for UFC 292.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 292 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN2/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 292: “Sterling vs. O’Malley” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.