There have been rumors recently that a fight between bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and former double-champ Henry Cejudo may be in the works for UFC 284, but ‘The Funkmaster’ has poured cold water on the idea.
In a new interview Sterling revealed that regardless of the opponent he has no interest in fighting at UFC 284, which takes place in Australia on February 12th, and instead isn’t planning to return until the summer months.
“I’m not fighting until mid-year next year,” Sterling told MMA Junkie. “So, I don’t know what anybody is talking about. You’re gonna need to move me to get me to get back into a training camp. So, good luck with that. I earned my time off so Henry can go kick rocks”.
Sterling then went on to suggest that when he does return, Cejudo isn’t the option at the top of the list, despite the fact that when he stepped away from the sport in 2020 he was the reigning flyweight and bantamweight champion.
“Let me ask you, are you excited to see Sterling vs. Cejudo?” Sterling asked. “Are you most excited about that matchup for the next title shot at 135? Is that the biggest fight for you as a fan of the sport?”
Sterling then went on to outline the three potential options for his next fight, with Cejudo and Marlon Vera being two of the options, before going on to make the case that it’s actually Sean O’Malley who would be the biggest draw.
“I want the biggest fight because I get pay-per-view points. The moment I lose the belt, I don’t get pay-per-view points. So I want the biggest fight, and if it’s Cejudo, I gladly oblige. But, I don’t think it’s him. I really don’t. I even feel like people would be more excited to see me fight ‘Chito’ (Vera) over Cejudo.
“It seems like as a whole Sean [O’Malley] just draws better than Cejudo. He hasn’t fought in almost three years. I’m only pointing out the negatives. Outside of his credentials, for a die-hard, I’d be excited about that fight. But other than that, in terms of financial, I want the biggest fight which is typically the fight the fans want to see the most. I feel it’s the Sean O’Malley fight, but again, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.”
O’Malley is coming off a big, but somewhat controversial split-decision win over Petr Yan at UFC 280, which leaves him unbeaten in his last five fights and resulted in him leaping 10 places up the bantamweight rankings to secure the No.1 contender spot.
That suggests that O’Malley may well end up being Sterling’s next opponent, though whether the UFC will agree to let them both sit out until the summer of next year before fighting remains to be seen.