“He who laughs last, laughs best” goes the old saying, and there’s little doubt Algemaine Sterling is having a good laugh right now.
A guy disrespected by a huge fan base, especially after taking an illegal knee in his attempt to win his title, showed his critics and calling him a winner nothing.
Sterling defeated one of the greatest fighters in UFC history on Saturday when he won a split decision over Henry Cejudo at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Two judges had it 48-47 for Sterling and the third had it 48-47 for Cejudo. Yahoo Sports Sterling, 48-47.
Since winning the title by disqualification from Petr Yan in 2021, Sterling beat Yani in a rematch, dominated DJ Dillashaw and scored his biggest win over Cejudo on Saturday. Add in a submission win over Corey Chandagan that earned him a title shot, and it’s one of the best runs in recent memory.
Sterling’s length gave Cejuto trouble and Sterling’s wrestling was surprisingly effective against the 2008 Olympic gold medalist. But it was in the clinch where Sterling was at his best.
“I wish I could have done a little better, but Henry’s a dog,” Sterling said of Cejudo, whom he fought after a three-year layoff.
Sterling used his range to push the pace and cause Cejuto problems. But when they got the win, Sterling used knees and elbows to get the win.
Swelling and inflammation were not in the scoring criteria, but Sterling noted, “Look at his face and look at mine.” Although Cejudo had a large welt under his right eye, Sterling had no visible marks.
Sean O’Malley would be Sterling’s next challenger, and he came into the ring. They talked trash to each other and O’Malley said, “You’re better than that. You were like s***.
Sterling yelled, “September! Signed, delivered and sealed, child. September.”
Lost in all of this is that Cejudo said he’s retiring after taking off his gloves and considering getting this back in a fight.
He didn’t seem to explode once, which cost him on Saturday.
“I think we’re going to go back and think about it,” Cejudo said. “If I’m not first, I’m last. I’m going to speak [UFC president] Dana [White]. I’m going to talk to my wife. Who knows, this might be the last you see of me in this octagon.
If it is, it’s been an amazing run and he’ll end up in the Hall of Fame. But for Sterling, the man is mocked so often and so unfairly that it only gets bigger and better.