‘It’s a bigger fight’ — Henry Cejudo aiming for interim title clash against Sean O’Malley at UFC 292

Former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo says Aljamain Sterling is ‘playing games,’ so he wants an interim title fight with Sean O’Malley.

By: Kristen King | 5 days ago
‘It’s a bigger fight’ — Henry Cejudo aiming for interim title clash against Sean O’Malley at UFC 292
Henry Cejudo after UFC 249 | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Henry Cejudo says he is ‘100 percent in’ for a potential interim championship fight against Sean O’Malley. Less than a month removed from his loss to reigning UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, the former two-division UFC champion wants to return to the Octagon against ‘Suga,’ who may or may not need a new opponent. 

Sterling and UFC president Dana White have argued over the announcement of his next defense, which is expected against O’Malley at UFC 292, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for Aug. 19 at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. Despite the announcement, the ‘Funk Master’ said he was ‘still injured’ from his defense against Cejudo, raising concerns that he wouldn’t be ready to meet the UFC’s bullish PPV title defense scheudle. After hearing what Sterling said, White revealed that the first fighter on the phone with him was Cejudo, who was ‘throwing his hat’ in if Sterling was out. 

Henry Cejudo calls for interim fight at UFC 292

As their argument continued, White revealed he was considering an interim fight if Sterling was not healthy enough to return against O’Malley. If the UFC president opts to schedule it, then Henry Cejudo wants in. 

“If Aljamain Sterling is playing this game that he’s not ready, he needs a little more time, let’s make an interim fight between me and Sean O’Malley,” said Cejudo on his official YouTube channel. “It’s a bigger fight, it’s what the UFC wanted initially. It’s the same reason why they brought me out to chase and beat Aljamain Sterling. Yeah, OK, I took a loss. Split decision, I’ll take it on the chin, but there’s still an opportunity there for me.

“After a three-year layoff, coming back, losing by split decision, being ranked now No. 3, that puts me in a really good position,” continued Cejudo. “I wanted Merab, and I’m still willing to wait for Merab. But if that fight with Sean O’Malley happens to open up, I’m 100 percent in, Dana White. [UFC Chief Business Officer] Hunter Campbell, UFC, I’m 100 percent in, and there’s nobody that could sell that fight.”

Henry Cejudo open to backup role for UFC 292

Aljamain Sterling has said he would indeed return against O’Malley, so Cejudo may have to wait for another fight. ’Triple C’ said he would prefer to serve as the backup fighter for Sterling vs. O’Malley. If not, he could go after Merab Dvalishvili, the Serra-Longo Fight Team teammate and friend of Sterling. 

“If I don’t get that fight with Sean O’Malley, I’m going to wait for Merab,” said Cejudo. “So, Merab, you’re not off the hook. I personally like the match-up. It could be a three-rounder, a five-rounder. I even like that Sydney card [UFC 293]. I think more than likely Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya are going to be on that card. I think that could be a banger, too, for us to maybe get on that pay-per-view card. 

“Or it could be a five-rounder,” continued Cejudo. “I know he is the Cardio King, but I’m here to win a title. If I got to go five rounds with somebody that is very conditioned, I think this match-up goes very, very well. I think him and Sterling have different styles, but similar tactics. I know what it is that I have to do to become victorious in that fight. So, I will wait for you Merab, don’t worry. And then for your hand, stop sitting on your damn thumb. I will wait for you, I will break you.”

Dvalishvili recently had surgery to repair an injured hand he suffered prior to his fight against Petr Yan at UFC Las Vegas this past March. The ‘Machine’ went on to defeat the former UFC bantamweight champion via unanimous decision. Though he initially said he would postpone surgery for a potential fight with Cejudo, Dvalishvili went ahead with the procedure. 

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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