On May 7, 2023, history was made in the world of mixed martial arts as Aljamain Sterling defeated Henry Cejudo to become the new UFC bantamweight champion. Sterling’s victory came after a hard-fought five-round battle that showcased his incredible skill and determination.
Cejudo, who was widely regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, came into the fight as the favorite. He had amassed an impressive record of 16 wins and only 2 losses, with victories over some of the sport’s biggest names, including Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, and Dominick Cruz.
Sterling, on the other hand, had a record of 14 wins and 4 losses. He had been steadily climbing up the rankings, with impressive victories over top contenders like Pedro Munhoz and Cory Sandhagen.
Despite being the underdog, Sterling came out strong in the first round, taking the fight to Cejudo with a series of strikes and takedowns. Cejudo, however, showed his toughness and resilience, weathering the storm and coming back with some hard shots of his own.
As the fight progressed, it became clear that Sterling’s grappling skills were a major factor in his success. He was able to take Cejudo down repeatedly and control him on the ground, preventing the Olympic gold medalist wrestler from using his own grappling skills to their full potential.
Cejudo continued to fight back, landing some heavy punches and kicks, but Sterling’s relentless pressure and superior ground game proved to be too much. In the fourth round, Sterling landed a brutal knee to Cejudo’s midsection, causing the former champion to buckle and go down.
From there, Sterling was able to take Cejudo’s back and lock in a rear-naked choke, forcing him to tap out and ending the fight.
The victory was a huge moment for Sterling, who had been working towards a title shot for years. In his post-fight interview, he spoke about the sacrifices he had made and the challenges he had faced on his journey to the top.
“I’ve been through so much to get here,” Sterling said. “I’ve had injuries, setbacks, and people doubting me at every turn. But I never gave up, and I never stopped believing in myself.”
Sterling’s victory also marked a changing of the guard in the bantamweight division. Cejudo had been the dominant force in the division for several years, but his defeat at the hands of Sterling signaled the emergence of a new generation of fighters.
His lifelong dream of becoming a UFC champion
In the coming months, Sterling will likely face a number of challengers looking to take his title. But for now, he can bask in the glory of his hard-earned victory and revel in the knowledge that he has achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a UFC champion.
The victory also serves as a reminder of the power of perseverance and hard work. Sterling’s journey to the top was not an easy one, but his dedication and commitment to his craft ultimately paid off in the form of a championship belt.
As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to grow and evolve, fighters like Sterling will undoubtedly continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the octagon. But for now, we can all celebrate this historic moment and revel in the triumph of one of the sport’s true warriors.