Jon Anik has questions about Henry Cejudo’s goals heading into UFC 288
Former two-division UFC champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo is returning to action after three years away, which raises a few questions for some.
Cejudo’s exit from fighting was one most combat spot athletes dream of, but rarely get to experience. “Triple C” walked away from the sport on a win, with the flyweight and bantamweight titles on his shoulders. It was a perfect “riding off into the sunset moment” but now, Cejudo’s coming back for more.
UFC commentator Jon Anik is always excited to see the best combat sports athletes compete, and it’s no different with Cejudo’s return, but he would like some clarity about the former champ’s career intentions heading into the UFC 288 main event bout for the bantamweight title against Aljamain Sterling, and beyond.
“Why are you back here?” Anik said to MMA Junkie Radio, as a question he would like to ask Cejudo in the upcoming pre-fight fighter meeting. “Is the goal to be ‘C4’ and fight Alexander Volkanovski or Yair Rodriguez and become a three-division champion to go along with your Olympic gold medal? Is the goal to beat Aljamain Sterling, who if he beats you, is probably the greatest bantamweight of all time? Is the goal financial?
“I don’t think he’s going to be giving us any great revelation as far as his real estate career is concerned. I mean, it seemed like that was going to be his financial platform when he left fighting, and instead, it seems like, unless I’m ignorant on this – you know, he’s been monetizing YouTube, and he’s a G. He’s a brilliant, brilliant combat sports mind. I ingest so much of what of he puts out there, but I don’t know is the sort of long-winded answer. I don’t know why Henry Cejudo is back. I think money has got to have a lot to do with it.”
Over the years since leaving the UFC after defeating Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in 2020, Cejudo has been putting his fight smarts to good use in fight breakdown videos, and in the gym alongside UFC peers across various weight classes, including working with the current heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
All the while, Cejudo has been staying in shape, and most importantly, staying clean, as last month he received the first-ever award for reaching 75 clean USADA tests. Now, it’s time to step back into the octagon after three years, and has a very tough challenge ahead in bantamweight champ Sterling.
UFC champ Aljamain Sterling on Henry Cejudo: 'I think I can stop him in the second round'
Why Sean O'Malley decided against backup role for Aljamain Sterling vs. Henry Cejudo at UFC 288
'He won the belt via Academy Award': Henry Cejudo, Aljamain Sterling get in heated exchange ahead of UFC 288
“When the foundation was trying to be laid by Henry Cejudo for a fight against Alexander Volkanovski, Volkanovski was not the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” Anik said. “It’s going to be very interesting to see how Cejudo comes back from that.
“You know, Dominick Cruz is a guy who right now is the consensus greatest bantamweight of all time. I don’t have to tell you guys that he doesn’t believe in ring rust at all. If there were ever to be a combat sports athlete where I really wouldn’t worry too much about a layoff, it would probably be Henry Cejudo. I did worry a little bit when I saw that he needed stitches pretty early on in training camp and has been dealing with a pretty big welt under that left eye, but Henry Cejudo is a master preparer.”
If successful in his return, Cejudo’s win streak will extend to seven. In order to do that, he has to figure out how to stop Sterling, who has won his last eight, has been active in Cejudo’s absence, and appears to get better each time out.
“He’s not going to leave any stone unturned and if he doesn’t present the best version of himself, it’ll be pretty close,” Anik said about Cejudo’s preparation. “I think the bigger issue just might be the opponent.”