Aljamain Sterling believes he ‘did the universe a favor in finally shutting up Henry Cejudo’

It’s water under the bridge for Aljamain Sterling when it comes to Henry Cejudo and the ex-champ’s team. But he has a few words of advice for Team Cejudo when it comes who gets to build hype for a fight.

Cejudo’s longtime coach, Eric Albarracin, got in on the action a little bit too much for Sterling’s liking. The UFC bantamweight champ cautions it’s one thing when opponents talk and another when their corners do.

“When the teammates are mean-mugging and doing stuff and acting as if they’re going to attack somebody on the team, or even myself, I get a little bit more defensive and on the edge,” Sterling said Monday on The MMA Hour. “Because now I [have] that New York vibe feel, just where I came from, when people do stuff like that, you call them out on it, you check them. And it’s like, ‘Yo, what are you trying to do?’

“So it wasn’t more so about them getting in my head. It’s more about, be respectful man. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. If [Cejudo] wants to be a clown, and be the cringe, and be whatever, and be the heel, let him do that. But we’re not gonna actually fight. Eric Albarracin, we’re not gonna freaking fight.

“For you to be saying s*** like, ‘Make him piss blood.’ I’m like, ‘How about I make you piss blood? How about my coaches make you piss blood?’”

For all the talk, security was only needed at the ceremonial weigh-ins, when Sterling and Cejudo got a little physical after facing off for cameras. Sterling said there’s a reason he and his team stay professional.

“We don’t act like asshats and clowns – have some damn respect for yourselves and your team, and carry yourselves like that,” he said. “You can be winners and still do your s*** and not have to be complete dickheads, so that was my whole thing with that.”

Sterling is not a unique target for Team Cejudo. Albarracin is known for playing the hype man to his fighter and cutting his own promos with spicy predictions on the outcome of fights. The champion said that might one day get Albarracin into trouble, so it’s up to him to check that behavior.

“It’s like the people who always cry wolf, as soon as you actually retaliate and smack them in the face for saying something smart, when they’re not the ones that are getting in there with you, they wanna now press charges and things like that,” Sterling said. “So I had to make sure that was known, and stick up for all the people that those guys do all that s*** to because it’s, it’s f****** annoying.

“It’s one thing that if we’re gonna fight – OK, cool, but we’re not gonna fight, you’re not gonna fight my teammates, but you’re sitting here heckling them as if they won’t smack you. And if they do smack you, now what are we’re gonna do, we’re gonna end up in a brawl, and that’s what’s gonna happen. So now you’re gonna scrap the whole fight, because your teammates are being complete douchebags. There’s a place and time for everything. Other than that, I think I did the universe a favor in finally shutting up Henry Cejudo.”

Cejudo hoped to use a Sterling victory to springboard a move to the featherweight division, which would have made him the only UFC fighter to capture a title in three different weight classes. Sterling himself expects to move up to 145 pounds after taking on bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley. But his business with Cejudo is done, and despite all the talk, there’s no hard feelings.

“He’s a competitor,” Sterling said. “At the end of the day … I had to crush another man dreams to achieve my own, and that’s what the sport is about. It could be a very violent and dark place for a few minutes, but after that, when it’s all said and done, we can go our separate ways.

“I don’t have an issue with the guy, like, personally. I think he’s a little odd. I do find him funny, because some of the stuff he does is like quirky and weird, but it’s kind of funny. I guess that’s what cringey means. … But yeah, he doesn’t bother me outside of that. It’s just, he signed the dotted line. That was the guy who was supposed to fight, and when you sign that, it’s like, it’s you or me, man.”