We have a big bantamweight title fight in the works for UFC 287 on April 8th between the current champion, Aljamain Sterling, and the former UFC double champ and Olympic gold medalist wrestler, Henry Cejudo.
First reported by MMA Fighting, Cejudo will be coming out of retirement to try and get the 135-pound belt that he never lost. This is all pending on the recovery time of Sterling’s torn bicep. No contracts have been signed yet, and the event’s venue has yet to be named, but if all goes well in Aljo’s healing process, then Sterling vs. Cejudo will likely headline April’s PPV event.
Sterling is on a crazy eight-fight winning streak. Through it, there’s a nutso disqualification win over Petr Yan to win the belt, and then a split decision victory in the rematch to retain the title — where UFC President Dana White publicly stated that he thought Aljo lost. In his most recent appearance at UFC 280, Aljamain TKO’d an already-injured (and one-armed) T.J. Dillashaw, in what was a fight that never should have started to begin with.
Wonkiness keeps making an appearance in Aljo’s fights, but his apparent crown of favor has kept him on the winning side of the weirdness thus far. And now he’s fighting someone who has been retired from MMA for three-years. I’m sure nothing odd is going happen.
Cejudo walked away from the sport in May of 2020, as the UFC’s bantamweight champion, following a brutal knockout win over a former champ in Dominick Cruz. He caught bodies in the two fights before that, too. He sparked out a two-armed T.J. Dillashaw in 32-seconds at UFC on ESPN+ 1 in January of 2019, and then pounded out Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 five-months later.
So what is this matchup going to look like? Well, let’s go ahead and just skip the whole ring rust argument, and look at this from a stylistic point of view. Aljo is a highly skilled grappler, who has a knack for taking the back. You can go ask Cory Sandhagen about that. Sterling surely knows his way around on the ground, but Cejudo is even a notch above that. I mean he won a gold fricking medal in wrestling for crying out loud. I can definitely see Aljo competing with Henry in the scrambles, but it’s hard to see him actually thriving there.
It feels like there’s a really great chance that these two will stand and bang for the majority of the match — and that will likely be Henry’s decision. Cejudo is the better striker here. Period. He just is, and if Aljo can’t get (or keep) top position, then there’s a real chance that he gets tuned up on the feet. It’s a fight, and of course anything can happen, but it’s difficult for me to not favor Cejudo.
Check out the current UFC 287 lineup:
- Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo: Bantamweight Title
- Rob Font vs. Adrian Yanez: Bantamweight
- Michelle Waterson-Gomez vs. Luana Pinheiro: Strawweight
- Kelvin Gastelum vs. Chris Curtis: Middleweight
- Cynthia Calvillo vs. Lupita Godinez: Strawweight
- Ignacio Bahamondes vs. Nikolas Motta: Lightweight
- Raul Rosas Jr. vs. Christian Rodriguez: Bantamweight
- Steve Garcia vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke: Featherweight
- Gerald Meerschaert vs. Joseph Pyfer: Middleweight
About the author: Eddie Mercado has covered combat sports since 2015. He covers everything from betting odds to live events and fighter interviews. He holds a 1-0 record in pro MMA and holds a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu. (full bio)
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