Henry Cejudo knows what he wants.
Cejudo, who is set to challenge for the bantamweight title this Saturday against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288, has not stepped into a UFC octagon since May 9, 2020 but is confident in his return and what could follow if he were to win.
“[I came back] because it’s easy money,” Cejudo said Wednesday. “ I feel really good. I love the challenge. I love that people are going to doubt me and I think that’s another reason why I’m back too. I love being the underdog like I’ve been my whole life… And I personally think Aljamain just sucks.”
Prior to retirement, Cejudo held both the UFC flyweight and bantamweight championships and is only the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold two championships simultaneously . Along with winning UFC gold, Cejudo won an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in wrestling. Cejudo, if he were to win, is looking to add some more gold to his shelf.
“He [Alexander Volkanovski] is next,” Cejudo said. “I wouldn’t mind two tuneups before I go up against Alexander Volkanovski.. But that is the biggest challenge, that is who I want.”
Volkanovski, who is the current UFC featherweather champion, has a verbal agreement to face off against Yair Rodriguez on July 8 at UFC 290, according to multiple outlets. Before his recent loss to Islam Makhachev, where he challenged for the lightweight title, Volkanovski was riding a 12 fight win streak with five of those wins being title fights. Despite the loss, Cejudo still views Volkanovski as the man to beat for him to become the first ever three division champion in the UFC.
Before his fight against Volkanovski, Cejudo has one more name in mind.
“Sean O’Malley, he’s that dirty Q-tip, he’s a privileged brat,” Cejudo said. “I’m going to hurt him… Make sure he listens to this, I want him right away.”
O’Malley currently sits as the No. 2 contender in the UFC bantamweight rankings, but would make for must-see theater if Cejudo and O’Malley were to face off. O’Malley, along with his brashness and popularity, brings precision striking that has led to highlight reel knockouts.
Cejudo, despite looking ahead and being dismissive of Sterling, knows the challenge that is in front of him on Saturday.
“First things first, Aljamain’s first,” Cejudo said. “I’m not underestimating Aljamain, I just believe in my skill set that much. I see him and O’Malley as a tune-up fight, I want that featherweight strap.”