UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling isn’t intimidated by former two-division titleholder Henry Cejudo’s Olympic credentials.
Sterling has held the throne at 135 pounds since a disqualification win over Petr Yan last March. While his reign and the method of victory that launched him have come under intense scrutiny, “Funk Master” has since legitimized his reign with a pair of tusks.
After adding a second win over Yan to his record last April at UFC 273, beating the Russian by five rounds, Sterling quickly dispatched an injured TJ Dillashaw via TKO last month in Abu Dhabi.
Now, having beaten the division’s top two men, who were previously ranked, talk has turned to who Sterling might put the belt on the line next.
And while there are certainly contenders on the bantamweight scale who may have deserved the shot, including Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera, there’s also the seemingly imminent return of the former king of the division.
Since retiring and vacating the bantamweight title in 2020, Cejudo has constantly hinted at a comeback, with talk of a return this year following his re-entry into the USADA test pool.
After UFC 280, reports suggested ‘Triple C’ had become the favorite to next face Sterling, with the promotion targeting the matchup for UFC 284 next February. While the champ is instead targeting June as his next outing, that hasn’t stopped Cejudo from continuing to stake his claim on social media.
Much of the talk surrounding the pair has focused on the clash of wrestling styles, with many wondering if the reigning king could overcome Cejudo’s abilities which helped him win gold at the Beijing Olympics. in 2008 in freestyle wrestling.
But not only is Sterling confident of denying that inside the Octagon, he also thinks he would fare more than well against the former bantamweight and flyweight king on the mats.
Sterling isn’t afraid of Cejudo’s Olympic struggle
In a recent appearance on food truck notebooks along with Brendan Schaub, Sterling responded to the confidence Cejudo has in how his wrestling game would compare to the champ’s.
‘Funk Master’ thinks ‘Triple C’ is overestimating the impact his arsenal will have against another highly rated wrestler. But more than dealing with attacks from the 2008 Olympic MMA gold medalist, Sterling believes he would actually beat Cejudo in some styles on the mats.
“He keeps talking about that wrestling past. I’m like, it doesn’t really affect the fight when you have another top wrestler,” Sterling said. “I mean, if we had a wrestling match, I’m like, ‘Cejudo, how much do you think you’d win? Or how much would you actually lose?
“Folk wrestling is what I did in middle school and high school. Henry didn’t do folkstyle in college. He freestyled and went straight to the Olympics. So it’s a little different style. That’s why my back-riding is top notch,” Sterling continued. “We fight at the top, we are allowed to fight at the top, to take control. That’s why I think if we struggled, I’d beat him, per the style.
While the wrestling comparison is currently up for debate and nothing more, it looks like Cejudo’s renewed ambitions in the sport could mean the pair’s theories and confidence will be tested against each other. another in the Octagon next year.
How do you think a wrestling match between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo would go?