Combat Sports

Can Henry Cejudo Become The First Ever Three Weight World Champion?

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The History Of Triple C

Henry Cejudo shocked the world when he defeated arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, at UFC 227 in August 2018. This came just two years after suffering the first loss in his professional career to Mighty Mouse, where he was finished in the first round. This proved to be a blessing in disguise as Cejudo went back to the drawing board, reinvented himself, and was able to do what seemed impossible: beat DJ and become the new UFC flyweight champion.

One year later, Cejudo went on to make history by becoming only the fourth fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes when he defeated Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 via third-round TKO. Flyweight champion, Bantamweight champion, and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Triple C was born.

After defending the Bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz in May 2020 at UFC 249, Cejudo decided to retire from the sport, riding a six-fight win streak including title defenses in both weight classes, to pursue goals away from the octagon. However, in the press conference following the bout, he didn’t completely rule out a return, stating that UFC president Dana White “knows the number”, meaning he could be persuaded if the money is right. But alas, Triple C retired as arguably the greatest combat athlete of all time.

Will the fight happen?

Fast forward to September 2021, Alexander Volkanovski defeated Brian Ortega at UFC 266 to retain his Featherweight title in dramatic and dominating fashion. Cejudo took to social media to express his desire to return to the octagon. Cejudo tweeted, “@danawhite I’m gonna take Alexander the Average’s soul  #ufc266”. The greatest combat sports athlete aims to make history by becoming the first-ever three-weight world champion. As intriguing as this storyline could be, there are two obstacles in the way of this fight happening.

Firstly, some suggest that Dana White is hesitant because he does not want a repeat of the GSP situation back in 2017 when Georges St Pierre beat Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title and immediately vacated instead of facing the interim champion Robert Whittaker. However, according to Cejudo’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, Triple C has promised that if he wins the featherweight title, he will defend the belt. If he loses, he will move back down to bantamweight and continue fighting.

Secondly, Dana White seemed uninterested in the potential fight in the post-fight press conference, saying, “he (Cejudo) retired, and you’ve been off all this time and you want to come back and fight Volkanovski? And jump the line and jump over Max (Holloway) and all these other guys that have been there? It’s a tough conversation.” As fair as that point is, Volkanovski has said that he doesn’t want to wait 6 or 7 months until his next fight. With the top 5 featherweights booked or have competed recently, a super fight with Triple C could be a very interesting option for the UFC.

The Tale Of The Tape

What makes this matchup compelling is that, although Henry Cejudo has competed at flyweight, he wouldn’t be massively outsized by Alexander Volkanovski. Cejudo stands at 5’4” and Volkanovski stands at 5’6” (the shortest fighter out of the top 15 featherweights). Cejudo’s last three fights were against fighters the same height or taller than Volkanovski. Dominick Cruz who stands at 5’8”, T.J. Dillashaw who stands at 5’6”, and Marlon Moraes who stands at 5’6”. In all three bouts, the height difference wasn’t an issue as he finished all three of them by TKO.

A new challenge Cejudo would face is the reach disadvantage. Cejudo has a reach of 67.5” compared to Volkanovski’s 71.5” reach. The only other fighter Triple C has come up against with a larger reach advantage than Volkanovski’s was in his second professional fight against Sean Barnett, who had a reach of 73” and stood at 6’1” tall. Cejudo won that fight by first-round TKO stoppage. This information suggests that the former bantamweight and flyweight champion isn’t phased by any form size discrepancies between himself and his opponents. He has proven that he can overcome those obstacles.

Conclusion

Whether or not the fight will happen, only time will tell. As things stand, the likelihood of Henry Cejudo getting the opportunity at the 145 lbs title seems slim. Alexander Volkanovski brushed off the call out from Triple C, Dana White isn’t fully convinced by the idea of the fight and the fact of the matter is Henry Cejudo is not yet in the USADA testing pool. But, as stated earlier, Volkanovski wants to stay active. Cejudo and Ali Abdelaziz are still confident that an agreement can be reached. We’ve seen crazier things happen in this sport. It goes without saying that if this fight does comes to fruition, it will be one for the ages.


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Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images

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