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Morning Report: Henry Cejudo: Aljamain Sterling is ‘afraid of fighting a competitor like me’

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Henry Cejudo suddenly appears closer than ever to the title shot he’s been asking for since announcing his comeback.

UFC 280 has come and gone, but what has remained the same is Aljamain Sterling as the UFC bantamweight titleholder. Defeating T.J. Dillashaw via a one-sided second-round TKO with ground-and-pound strikes, Sterling successfully defended his throne for the second time.

Ahead of the bout’s fruition, speculation swirled aplenty regarding who might be the next opponent of Sterling’s. Along with Dillashaw’s name in the mix was former champion Henry Cejudo who revealed he’d be returning to action later in the year. While that has yet to happen, Cejudo has re-entered the USADA testing pool and is all good to officially come back, it’s just a matter of getting a fight.

“Triple C” has been vocal about his dream of capturing a third UFC title at featherweight, but with the champion Alexander Volkanovski seemingly set to challenge for lightweight gold, Cejudo is now back to targeting his old bantamweight strap.

“It should be me, honestly,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel regarding Sterling’s next challenger. “If Sean [O’Malley] would have beat this dude (Petr Yan) fair and square, I know I would have lost the title shot.

“If Aljamain really does want to fight me, let’s go, dude. I personally think he’s afraid of me. I think he’s afraid of fighting a competitor like me. I just think I’m too good. I think I’m too good for him, I don’t see his wrestling as a threat.”

Also at UFC 280 this past weekend, the “Sugar Show” delivered, proving many a doubter wrong whether or not he rightfully deserved his split decision nod over the former champion Yan. Heading into the bout, UFC President Dana White alluded to the winner likely being next in line for Sterling, and with the win, O’Malley vaults directly to the top of the contender list.

Immediately after the event, however, White addressed the media and threw out Cejudo’s name as an option, too. Therefore, creating even more intrigue in an already loaded 135-pound weight class.

“Dana White thinks this guy (O’Malley) won, he’s getting the next title shot,” Cejudo said. “So, with that being said, I’m sitting here licking my fingers because I see a lot of opportunities for myself. I am the best in the world and I am going to continue to be the best in the world. Those are my two cents.”

As one of the best-credentialed wrestlers MMA has ever seen, Cejudo doesn’t see much to be worried about in the also extremely talented grappler Sterling. Against Dillashaw, Sterling did what he does best, imposing his will on the former two-time champion and dominating him on the ground in all areas.

Unfortunately for Sterling, credit is being taken away from him by some in the community thanks to Dillashaw knowingly going into the bout with a bad shoulder injury. Cejudo feels the victory was legitimate, but at the same time also feels much is left to be desired from the current champion.

“It wasn’t really a fight,” Cejudo said. “T.J.’s shoulder kept going out, Aljamain got the job done, but I’m still not impressed with this guy. Hate me or whatever you guys want.

“Yeah, he beat T.J., but T.J. was literally going inside the octagon injured, pulling his shoulder out and still this man wasn’t able to finish him — or I think my biggest thing was that Aljamain wasn’t able to tell that this dude had a shoulder injury. As a fighter, as a killer, as a shark, you gotta see and look at things like that. He didn’t even see it. He literally gets tired. It took him that long to beat a dude up that has a dislocated shoulder. He got the job done, he got the stoppage, he got the TKO, but was T.J. healthy? It’s not realistic to say that.”


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