Aljamain Sterling ‘optimistic’ he’ll be able to fight at UFC 285, but cool with interim title if not


Aljamain Sterling is just as uncertain as the rest of the MMA world regarding the status of his partially torn left bicep tendon and whether it’ll affect his availability for UFC 285.

“It’s just super weird, kind of the messages I’m getting,” Sterling said Monday on The MMA Hour. “No one wants to be like, ‘This is what you should do,’ because no one wants to be at fault if it’s wrong. Because they aren’t sure if PT will help them, they won’t say ‘get surgery’. They also don’t want PT to fail and we must have surgery anyway. So it’s kind of like this weird spot that I’m in.

” I told [UFC] the matchmakers that I feel better already. We’ll just keep going and watch what happens .'”

Sterling has been through the same injury. The UFC bantamweight champion suffered a complete tear of his right bicep back in 2016, which required surgery and a seven-month timeline to recover. The current tear in his left bicep isn’t as bad — Sterling expects a worst-case scenario with corrective surgery could keep him sidelined for potentially five months — however he’s hoping to avoid that scenario entirely and work his way back to defend his title against Henry Cejudo at UFC 285. Sterling said he is currently able to run and kick the heavy bag, but he remains hopeful that a March 4 date could be viable for his return.

“I think it’s a possibility,” Sterling said. My weight is falling. I was 165 this morning. Again, this is not a routine that I do every day so my weight may drop quickly once I am cleared to use my arms and be able wrestle or other such things.

“[UFC 285 is] is a monster card,” continued he. “I would love to [be on it]. So there’s a bunch of enticing things. So I am trying to do my best to get to the fight. If I’m able, I will. Let’s see if we can.

” I think that we will find out next week. I’m very optimistic about it.”

Sterling is no fool. He knows what he could be up against.

Cejudo may present himself with an odd persona on social media — aka “The King of Cringe” — but the 35-year-old former two-division champion offers a mighty challenge. Cejudo, an Olympic gold-medalist wrestler is also the only fighter in UFC history who has captured simultaneous belts from two distinct divisions.

Cejudo hasn’t fought since his retirement in May 2020, but he still isn’t the type of opponent any UFC champion should face at half strength.

Sterling stated that

“Henry may be corny but I’m not afraid of corny. “Corny is kind of funny because it’s different and it’s not like everyone trying to be, ‘Oh, I’m cool.’ So I get Henry. I get it him, I understand him. But don’t let that fool you. The guy is a legitimate athlete, a legitimate fighter, and he’s dangerous — and I want to make sure if I’m going to fight a guy like that and risk it again, that I’m going to do it [right]. If I lose, it’s my loss. It’s not my idea of a good excuse.

” I’m not going down the T.J. [Dillashaw] path. These are not the things I want to do. A good training camp, a strong fighting ability, and the ability to compete in the room should allow me theoretically to compete under lights. That’s what we risk. None of us go into these fights 100 percent, and I’ve got to make sure if I’m going to do it, the juice has got to be worth the squeeze. That’s pretty much where I’m at.”

While Sterling remains optimistic that UFC 285 could still be in the cards for him, he’s also realistic in knowing that the situation is out of his control.

So, if Cejudo is unable to continue fighting Sean O’Malley due to injury, Sterling will not complain.

“I’m either fighting Henry or Sean,” Sterling said. He can also wait if Henry doesn’t want to wait. He can choose to fight the simpler fight, the one he considers the most difficult, or fight Sean. If he is determined to beat Sean up, he may do so.

“But if he wants to say, ‘I don’t want to wait any longer, give me a fight right now,’ maybe they do an interim. An interim is a good idea. At the end of the day, an interim means both guys get paid, right? Because they’re going to now have a belt and they’re entitled to pay-per-view points. I’m in favor for anyone on pay-per-view on the main card to get pay-per-view points, even if it’s 25 cents, or 50 cents per buy. It’s not like you shouldn’t be on the pay per view card. This is how I see it .”