Former UFC double-champ Henry Cejudo’s pending return from retirement has been met largely with indifference from fight fans, mainly because of a lack of any fight actually being booked for the Olympic gold medalist.
For a good long while. Cejudo was focused on a move to featherweight, repeatedly calling out champ Alexander Volkanovski. At least until Dana White shot that effort down.
Now, however, it seems Cejudo (16-2) does have a championship opportunity lined up — as he’ll attempt to reclaim his old 135lb title against Aljamain Sterling (22-3). The fight, targeted for March, appears to be all but a done deal, with Cejudo’s manager last month claiming the bout was set. Champ Aljo also chimed in on his latest The Weekly Scraps podcast episode, officially announcing Henry Cejudo as his next opponent.
“I’m announcing that I am going to fight Henry next,” Sterling stated during the episode. “We are targeting March.” Addressing Cejudo’s manager, Sterling added “brother, it’s done but it’s still not done until there’s ink on the paper but it’s done. But it’s still kind of not done but this is the fight that’s going to happen next.”
“This fight is going to happen. Obviously, you guys saw the face off with myself and Henry Cejudo. I have no problem fighting Henry. Never ducked anybody a day in my life. The UFC gives me the toughest competition and I always step up to the plate and I always win, except for that one time when I got sent to Neptune against Marlon Moraes. For the most part, I typically win.”
Cejudo last competed in May of 2020, defeating Dominick Cruz by TKO in the second round to defend the UFC’s bantamweight title. One fight prior, Cejudo had won the vacant 135lb title against Marlon Moraes, with the belt vacated by the then-suspended T.J. Dillashaw.
Prior to claiming gold at 135lbs, Cejudo had been crowned champion at flyweight, where he had started his UFC career. That win came in a rematch against Demetrious Johnson, then considered all but unstoppable as the UFC’s inaugural and only flyweight champ. Following the Johnson fight, Cejudo defeated Dillashaw, who had moved down to 125lbs in an attempt to win a second title.
Cejudo’s retirement following the Cruz fight paved the way for Petr Yan to win the title; the following year, Aljo took possession of the belt following a DQ win against Yan care of an illegal knee. A flood of controversy followed, from fans suggesting that Sterling had played up the impact of what had been a clearly illegal foul.
Much of that was put to rest when Sterling won the pair’s rematch this past April. More recently, Sterling made quick work of Dillashaw at UFC 280, after the former champ showed up for his title fight with a badly injured shoulder.