Henry Cejudo’s final purpose — and one of many foremost causes he’s popping out of retirement — is to problem for the UFC featherweight title. However it’s extra doubtless Cejudo returns initially at bantamweight.
Cejudo advised ESPN in an interview printed Tuesday that he desires to battle Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title in an effort to do one thing nobody ever has in UFC historical past. Cejudo, an Olympic champion wrestler, is the previous UFC flyweight and bantamweight champion. No fighter has ever gained titles in three UFC divisions.
The UFC, although, appears to desire Cejudo come again at first within the bantamweight division. Cejudo defended his title in opposition to Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in Could 2020 after which surprisingly introduced his retirement in his postfight interview. Cejudo entered again into the USADA drug-testing pool in April and might be eligible to return to the Octagon in October.
“That is the one cause why I am even taking place to 135 kilos,” Cejudo stated of presumably combating Volkanovski sooner or later. “These dudes aren’t on my degree — none of these dudes are at my degree. They usually all understand it. So if I’ve to go all the way down to 135 kilos [and win back] my belt to problem Alexander Volkanovski, that is what I’ve to do.”
Cejudo, 35, is on a six-fight successful streak, throughout which he ended the document 11-fight title protection streak of Demetrious Johnson to win the flyweight belt after which beat Marlon Moraes to win the bantamweight title.
Aljamain Sterling, the present UFC bantamweight champion, is scheduled to defend in opposition to TJ Dillashaw at UFC 279 on Sept. 10 in Las Vegas. Cejudo owns a win over Dillashaw at flyweight and stated he would love a crack on the winner of that bout. Cejudo pointed to longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who got here out of retirement and fought for the middleweight title after 4 years away, and stated he would favor to not have a “tuneup battle.”
“No person beat me,” Cejudo stated. “I left, I relinquished my belt. I used to be by no means stripped. … I am right here to make historical past.”
If not a title battle, Cejudo stated he has some curiosity in a bout with rising bantamweight Sean O’Malley. The 2 have gone forwards and backwards a bit on social media, and Cejudo crashed an O’Malley interview throughout UFC 276 battle week earlier this month.
However Cejudo says he would not suppose that battle is what the UFC desires.
“The UFC is not prepared for him to die,” Cejudo stated. “It took Sean O’Malley 5 days to answer to me after I freaking crashed his interview. … He did not even tag my precise identify. He is enjoying video games. I will damage that dude. I do not suppose the UFC is keen to try this.”
Cejudo stated he would not remorse retiring two years in the past. His physique wanted relaxation after competing in wrestling or MMA since he was 11 years previous. In the course of the break day, Cejudo received married, and he and his spouse, Karolina, had a child daughter, America. He stated he has been again within the gymnasium now, engaged on fundamentals and strengthening his physique earlier than a future coaching camp. Cejudo stated he’d wish to battle this yr, however he is “actually not in a rush.”
The highest of the featherweight division is in flux. Volkanovski wants thumb surgical procedure, and UFC president Dana White talked about doing an interim title bout between high contenders Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett.
Cejudo stated he has a number of respect for Volkanovski and has been impressed with what he has been capable of do. ESPN has Volkanovski ranked No. 2 on this planet on its pound-for-pound listing. Cejudo was as soon as in the same vary as a top-five pound-for-pound MMA fighter earlier than he stepped away.
“I really imagine I might beat him,” Cejudo stated. “I might by no means take a battle that I do not suppose I might win.”
Cejudo is the one athlete ever to have gained an Olympic gold medal and two UFC divisional titles. He stated he would love so as to add one other UFC belt to his assortment and make one other milestone. Cejudo appealed to White, whom he trash-talked a bit after his retirement, to present him the possibility.
“I do know I talked a number of stuff, calling you Dana Bald, Dana Aldo,” Cejudo stated. “However, boss, I respect you. I perceive what you’ve got carried out for the UFC and the game of blended martial arts. I’ve solely wished consideration for conditions like this — to battle and make historical past. You have all the time stated it, Dana, that ‘I’ll by no means cease anyone from making historical past.’ Nicely, right here he’s proper right here, man.”