Reigning UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling expects to finish Henry Cejudo.
Aljamain Sterling predicts finish of Henry Cejudo
Sterling goes for his third defense, this time against Cejudo, the former two-division UFC champion who returns after a nearly three-year retirement. Considering his time away, some are uncertain what version of the ’Triple C’ is going to show up against the Serra-Longo Fight Team student.
Though he sees Cejudo as the ‘exact same’ fighter mentally, the ‘Funk Master’ says he may not be the same fighter physically. Which is why ‘Aljo’ seems certain he can finish the Fight Ready representative within two rounds.
“I think I can stop him in the second round,” said Sterling in a recent interview with Andrew Capucetti of InsideFighting. “That’s the plan right now with the way I’m training. I think he’s gonna be tough to get out of there in the first round. I think it’ll be a feeling out process, maybe trying to gas pedal him a little bit, get him on the back foot. If I can get him down, that’ll be ideal. Once I get the takedown secured I just pound him, and either he gives up his neck for the submission or I pound him out.”
Aljamain Sterling discusses next move after Cejudo
Should Sterling get through Cejudo in this next defense, the 33-year-old says he has a few more fights at bantamweight. No. 2 contender Sean O’Malley is on his list since he was ‘guaranteed’ a championship opportunity after his split decision win against ex-champion Petr Yan at UFC 280 this past October.
After that, Sterling is moving up to featherweight.
“I think one, two—I think two at the most [fights left at bantamweight],” said Sterling. “I take it a fight at a time and then go about it. Then it would be up to featherweight, see how I do with these guys over there. I mean, I do a pretty good job in the room, just more so just getting acclimated to the weight, the strength and making sure I can compete with those guys.”
The move to featherweight has been a long conversation for Sterling, who hinted at it over a year ago. In a recent interview with The Schmo, the ‘Funk Master’ said not having to cut too much anymore is one of the primary reasons why he was switching weight classes.
“I get pretty heavy,” said Sterling. “People are calling me a weight bully now, because they’re running out of excuses why I keep winning. I win because I put in the work. I do very meticulous work. I prepare very well. I train my ass off. I cut the weight the right way. I show up, I perform, I win.
“[145 pounds], it would make things a little bit easier, probably keep my body a little more healthy, because I won’t have to deplete myself as much,” continued Sterling. “I’m 167 this morning; I’m cutting down to 135. It’s a lot of weight. Everyone else is doing it. They don’t say anything about Islam [Makhachev] being a weight bully. They don’t say nothing about Khabib [Nurmagomedov] being a weight bully.”
There was also the dilemma of facing his friend and teammate Merab Dvalishvili, who has rattled off nine consecutive wins during his UFC run. Despite leapfrogging O’Malley in the official UFC rankings, the ‘Machine’ said he would never accept a fight against Sterling, so he would continue getting wins against other top contenders in the division. Since there are only so many options left for Dvalishvili, Sterling sees his time at bantamweight winding down.
When is Sterling vs. Cejudo?
Sterling vs. Cejudo headlines UFC 288, the pay-per-view event that goes down on Sat., May 6, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Alongside the featherweight main event, the card is expected to feature a lightweight top contender’s battle between Charles Oliveira and Benil Dariush.
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