If Henry Cejudo’s really going out, he’s going out on top.
UFC’s bantamweight champion defended his title with a second-round TKO of Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 on Saturday. Donning his belt and his wrestling gold medal from the 2008 Summer Olympics, the 33-year-old announced that he’s retiring.
“I’m retiring tonight,” Cejudo said in is post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. “I”m 33 years old. I’m happy with my career. ... “Triple C’s out. You don’t have to hear my ass no more.”
The announcement drew immediate congratulations from some of his championship brethren and fellow fighters.
Legendary @HenryCejudo my congratulations. You are the beast.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) May 10, 2020
— KAMARU USMAN (@USMAN84kg) May 10, 2020
Congrats @HenryCejudo! You’ll be back but great career man!
— Lance Palmer (@LancePalmer) May 10, 2020
It also drew some skepticism. Fighters who know the negotiation game as well as anybody saw Cejudo’s announcement as a contract ploy.
Somebody’s looking for that new contract, no way he’s retiring
— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) May 10, 2020
The best contract negotiation ever 😂
— michael (@bisping) May 10, 2020
Hes not really retiring we will see him next year #UFC249
— Nick Newell (@NotoriousNewell) May 10, 2020
Petr Yan, meanwhile, saw it as an avoidance play.
Smart decision to runaway from fighting me @HenryCejudo
— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) May 10, 2020
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani thinks he’s still thinking about a pay raise that he didn’t get.
I know Cejudo really wanted a big pay raise after beating Moraes, and he didn’t get that. That bugged him. One wonders if his announcement tonight had anything to do with that.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 10, 2020
So what’s the verdict. Is Cejudo calling it quits or holding out for a bigger payday?