The UFC just officially announced a bantamweight title fight between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo at UFC 288, and already “Triple C” is anticipating Sterling will pull out.
A match between Aljo and Cejudo has been brewing since Sterling beat an injured T.J. Dillashaw back in October. After initially being targeted for March, the bout was pushed back to May 8th. And even that looked shaky right up until the UFC finally declared the fight signed, sealed, and delivered on Saturday.
Former flyweight and bantamweight double champion Henry Cejudo will be competing for the first time in three years, and he clearly wants to make sure all contingencies are taken into account. After watching Merab Dvalishvili handle Petr Yan with relative ease on this weekend’s UFC Fight Night event, he asked the promotion to add Dvalishvili as a backup.
“So dear Dana White, I’m over here watching the No. 2 and 3 contenders and I’ve got a feeling that [Aljamain] is more likely to back out of this fight,” Cejudo said on Twitter. “So that being said, why don’t you give me Merab? Why don’t you give me Merab since Sean O’Malley wants to wait, he wants to take his time. Why we don’t make Merab the backup at UFC 288? Why don’t we do it that way.
“That way it’s both of these training partners, because I have a feeling Aljamain is going to eventually back out,” he continued. “And I want to make sure. Because it’s the same gameplan for both of these chumps: wrestle, strike, every time they throw something heavy they go in for takedowns.
“Anyway, Dana White: if you’re listening to me, let’s have Merab as a backup. Newark, New Jersey. UFC 288. I want both of them. I’d fight both of them the same night, they can both get it.”
The only issue with Merab Dvalishvili becoming a back-up for the UFC 288 main event is his insistence that he will never fight Aljamain Sterling. The two aren’t just training partners, they’re close friends. And despite Dana White’s warnings that refusing to fight the champ because he’s your friend is a bad idea, Merab doesn’t seem like the type of dude to go back on his decision.
He may not even have to wait very long for Aljamain Sterling to no longer be the bantamweight champion. Aljo has been talking about a move up to 145 pounds, which could happen after one or two more title shots.
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