Henry Cejudo carried his young daughter to the podium and plopped her on his lap until she got restless and slithered off as Dad explained why he was breaking a three-year retirement to fight again inside a cage.
Cejudo’s wife eventually ducked under a row of cameras and whisked away their cooing daughter, America.
Someone had to keep an eye on their 1-year-old girl.
Sort of how Cejudo says Aljamain Sterling has kept UFC’s 135-pound championship warm for him during his absence.
“He’s babysitting my belt,” Cejudo said.
Cejudo, the only person to win an Olympic gold medal and a UFC title, held that bantamweight crown when he abruptly retired in May 2020 after he successfully defended the championship against Dominick Cruz.
Some critics said Cejudo’s retirement was a negotiating tactic. But the 36-year-old fighter insisted he was simply out of challenges after achieving all he could in mixed martial arts.
So Cejudo called it a day and decided to train fighters at Jackson’s MMA Acoma gym in Arizona. He married Karolina, had a baby and another one is due this year. Meanwhile, the bantamweight belt shuffled from waist to waist before Sterling unified the division last April and he won his last defence against T.J. Dillashaw in October.
These must be the reasons why Cejudo ended his sabbatical, right? For his wife, who will be among the crowd Saturday night at UFC 288. To reclaim the championship he never lost against a fighter Cejudo believes doesn’t have the credentials to rival his MMA pedigree. To truly etch his name on the short list of greatest pound-for-pound UFC fighters in history.
Sometimes, though, the answer to why fighters fight is the easy one.
“Because it’s easy money,” Cejudo said.
Well, there you go. But the explanation for his comeback does, in fact, dive a bit deeper than a lucrative payday. Cejudo rattled off a list of fantastic fighters he helped train during his break and realized he still had the elite skill level needed to compete at the highest level.
“As good as these guys are, I also start to understand my ability a little more,” Cejudo said.
The 33-year-old Sterling said he thought Cejudo’s comeback “was a joke” when the fight was first pitched to him.
“He’s been sitting on the sideline just making YouTube videos and just criticizing everybody after he just quit and took himself out of competition,” he said.
Read other UFC stories/results - HERE
Aljamain Sterling vs Henry Cedujo (bantamweight)
Aljamain Sterling (C)
Aljamain Sterling - key stats
- Two successful title defenses in Bantamweight Division
- Joint-most wins in UFC Bantamweight division history - (13)
- Joint-longest win streak in UFC Bantamweight division history - (8)
Henry Cejudo - key stats
- One successful title defense each of UFC Bantamweight and Flyweight titles
- Seventh multi-division champion in UFC history
- Fourth simultaneous multi-divisional UFC champion
UFC 288 FULL FIGHT SCHEDULE
- Aljamain Sterling vs Henry Cejudo - UFC bantamweight title bout
- Belal Muhammad vs Gilbert Burns - Welterweight bout
- Jessica Andrade vs Yan Xiaonan - Women’s strawweight bout
- Movsar Evloev vs Diego Lopes - Featherweight bout
- Kron Gracie vs Charles Jourdain - Featherweight bout
- Drew Dober vs Matt Frevola - Lightweight bout
- Kennedy Nzechukwu vs Devin Clarkn - Light heavyweight bout
- Khaos Williams vs Ronaldo Bedoya - Welterweight bout
- Marina Rodriguez vs Virna Jandiroba - Women’s strawweight bout
- Braxton Smith vs Parker Porter - Heavyweight bout
- Phil Hawes vs Ikram Aliskerov - Middleweight bout
- Joseph Holmes vs Claudio Ribeiro - Catchweight (189 lbs) bout
Cancelled Bouts of UFC 288: Daniel Santos vs. Johnny Munoz Jr. and Rafael Estevam vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov.
The main card begins at 7.30am IST and the prelims start at 4.00am.
When and where to watch UFC 288 in India?
The LIVE coverage of UFC 288 - Sterling vs Cejudo will begin on Sony Sports Ten 2 & Sony Sports Ten 2 HD channels at 7:30 am IST on 7th May 2023, Sunday.
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