Aljamain Sterling explains where Henry Cejudo is going wrong en route to GOAT status

To a point, Aljamain Sterling understands where UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo is coming from.

Since winning the promotion’s 135-pound title in June 2019, Cejudo (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) has said he wants to call his shots. Cejudo has also said he wants to be the one to choose his opponents. So far, he’s doing just that. After Cejudo called for a fight with Jose Aldo, he received it, even though Aldo is coming off a loss.

Now Cejudo is calling for former champion Dominick Cruz to replace Aldo should coronavirus restrictions interfere. To Sterling (18-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), neither matchup makes sense.

“Henry Cejudo is the first man I’ve seen go from ‘Triple Champ’ to ‘Triple Chump’ all in the blink of an eye,” Sterling told MMA Junkie. “There are no boundaries on what this guy is going to say next. Now he’s calling out a guy who hasn’t fought and is coming off a very lopsided fight loss back in December 2016. He has two viable contenders. I wouldn’t even be mad if they pulled Petr Yan and gave Petr Yan the title fight over me.”

While he doesn’t fault Cejudo for wanting to have the ultimate say, Sterling wishes the champion would make better choices. Cejudo’s gimmick is part of the equation, Sterling said – but there’s another part, too. Gimmick or not, Cejudo isn’t doing much to advance his legacy, Sterling continued.

“It’s a little bit of a gimmick and a little bit of seriousness,” Sterling said. “I understand him saying, ‘I think I deserve to choose and pick who I want to fight.’ Alright, pick and choose who you want to fight out of the top contenders. (Don’t) pick and choose people coming off the couch. That is a big difference in your obligations to the fans. Give the fans the top contender fights they want to see. They want to see the best.

“That’s how you build fans. You beat the people the UFC put in front of you in terms of contenders. Ultimately if you keep winning, I think the money comes. What are you doing that’s really securing your legacy. Now you want to fight Jose Aldo, a guy who’s on the down swing of his career because you want to have (beaten a ) ‘GOAT?’ Yeah, he’s the ‘GOAT’ of the era that was back then – not now. It’s a different time period. Fight the guys who are the best and considered the best because that’s how you become considered the greatest of all time – not just cherry picking your fights and making a mockery and a clown (show) of the division.”

While Sterling isn’t interested in accepting a fight during the coronavirus pandemic, he would make an exception for a title fight. Due to the outbreak, many fighters’ travel capabilities are unknown. Cejudo is supposed to fight Aldo at UFC 250 in Brazil. If Aldo can’t make it, Sterling thinks he should be the first phone call the UFC brass makes.

“The next logical guy I think would be myself or Cory Sandhagen,” Sterling said. “If I had to take a bet, I would think it would be with myself just based on the platform and the body of work we both have on our resume. I think that’s really it. I wouldn’t mind being the guy to jump in there. That’s a life-changing situation for myself. It’s not like the money is so ridiculous where my kids’ kids are going to be set. I’ve got to make sure I’m being responsible with the money I make and do the right thing so I’m financially set at least for myself and my girlfriend. I’ve got to do the right things for my future.

“I’d like to be the guy. If they need a huckleberry, I could get proper training partners, I could put them up my house. We’d be a group of three to five people at most. Let’s get it on.”