LI’s Aljamain Sterling set to defend title at UFC 288 against former champ Henry Cejudo in NJ


UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling is set to headline UFC 288 in Newark, N.J. against former double champ Henry Cejudo on May 6.

The Long Island native is determined to make Cejudo regret ever calling him out.

“I’ve got more challenges out there for me to test myself,” Sterling told Greater Long Island. “But my main focus is making my opponent question his decision to step in the ring with me, the New York way!”

Sterling, 33, has an impressive record of 22-3 and is currently riding high on an eight-fight win streak. Despite his accomplishments, Sterling believes he hasn’t received the respect he deserves.

“I think some USA fans do like me, but most of them tend to favor fighters who fly the flag of other countries for their own personal reasons,” said Sterling, who flies a Jamaican flag in the octagon to pay homage to his ancestry. “Maybe it’s the accent? I do wish the American fan base were more supportive of their home country athletes like other countries are. It would be great to see.”

Sterling, who grew up in Uniondale, will be fighting at the home of the New Jersey Devils, the Prudential Center. He’s very familiar with the area, having fought there for most of his amateur and early pro career when MMA was illegal in New York. He’s a perfect 9-0 fighting in New Jersey, with his most recent victory against Brett Johns in Atlantic City in 2018.

Sterling’s opponent, Henry Cejudo, is a former flyweight and bantamweight champion who announced his retirement from the UFC in 2020 after defeating Dominick Cruz. Cejudo, 36, began trash-talking Sterling after Sterling defeated Yan last April, leading to the upcoming match in May.

“If the Muppet wants to come back and Triple C wants to get demoted to Double C, then we can do that,” Sterling responded.

The UFC confirmed the match last Tuesday, and Sterling is now focused on making his opponent regret ever calling him out.

Top: Aljamain Sterling, left, celebrates his win over Brett Johns, of Wales, during the first round of their mixed martial arts bantamweight bout Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)