Former Ultimate Fighting Championship two-division champion Henry Cejudo has found the motivation to don the 4-ounce gloves again.
Mixed martial arts fans might be glad to hear that Cejudo has re-entered the USADA pool and is waiting for his next assignment in the Octagon. Cejudo (16-2, 10-2 UFC) took a step away from competition in May 2020 when he stopped former 135-pound kingpin Dominick Cruz in the second frame of their UFC 249 encounter. Immediately after delivering a spectacular finish and defending the bantamweight championship, "Triple C" shocked the world by announcing his retirement. In a recent interview with ESPN, Cejudo's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, revealed that the Olympic gold medalist is back.
"Henry will focus on his fight and training," Abdelaziz said. "He never stopped training. I truly believe Henry can come back to win the 135 [bantamweight] title and go up to 145 [featherweight] and win that. He will be the only fighter in UFC history to win three world titles."
Per the UFC’s anti-doping policy, fighters have to undergo six months of drug testing before competing again in the Octagon. Apparently, the reason Cejudo changed his mind about fighting again is the recent UFC 273 headliner where Alexander Volkanovski defended his 145-pound championship with a fourth-round stoppage at the expense of "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung. Cejudo has never competed at featherweight, but he has been vocal about his intent to win the title in three different divisions after capturing the flyweight and the bantamweight championship.
"[Alexander Volkanovski] you’ve inspired me to come back," Cejudo wrote. "When it comes to wrestling…you couldn’t pin a tweet. I would take you down and choke you out quicker than a McGregor relapse. Sign the contract."
Cejudo is considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. His climbing to the MMA's Olympus started in August 2018, when he eked out a narrow split decision from Demetrious Johnson in a 125-pound championship affair. After defending the flyweight belt once against T.J. Dillashaw and relinquishing it shortly afterward, "Triple C" moved up to the bantamweight division and also captured the vacant bantamweight championship, which he defended against Cruz. Following the UFC 249 victory, he vacated the title and retired.
Cejudo hinted at his return on different occasions, but this one seems the most sincere attempt so far. After the announcement made the headlines, Cejudo took up to Twitter to share a conversation with Jeff Novitzky, the UFC Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance. Novitzky confirmed that Cejudo is officially back in the USADA pool starting April 12.
"Jeff Novitzky thank you for making the process so easy," Cejudo stated.
Cejudo made his UFC debut in December 2014. Over the years, he posted wins over the likes of Johnson, Cruz and Dillashaw, besides Marlon Moraes, Sergio Pettis, and Jussier Formiga, among others. In addition to eyeing the featherweight championship, Cejudo might also target the 135-pound crown that belongs to Aljamain Sterling following his split-decision victory over Petr Yan at UFC 273.