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Henry Cejudo on surprise retirement at UFC 249: ‘The process of fighting was getting stagnant’

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Here’s what the defending bantamweight champion had to say on why he decided to walk away from the sport after defeating Dominick Cruz on Saturday night.

UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Henry Cejudo never passes up an opportunity to proclaim himself the greatest combat sports athlete ever, but you gotta hand it to him: he keeps managing to live up to his own hype on fight night. This time he took out Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, TKO’ing the former bantamweight king in the second round of their 135-pound title fight. But what initially seemed like just another defense jewel in his bantamweight belt turned out to be his final fight: Cejudo surprised everyone by announcing his retirement in the ring.

After listening to him talk about his plans in the sport for the past year, it seemed odd. Many wondered if maybe it was just a negotiation tactic with UFC to get him paid what he feels he deserves as Olympic champ and double UFC champ. After all, he has brought up retirement in the past as an option if UFC didn’t show him the money. But during the UFC 249 post fight press conference “Triple C” made a convincing case that his retirement is for real and not about the Benjamins.

“I talked to my mentor, Dave Zowine, especially after my shoulder surgery, I had that time off,” Cejudo said. “And man, I love freedom And that’s why you see me at a lot of UFC events. I enjoy that stuff. Since I was 11 years old, I probably had 600 competitions, of wrestling, in my life. That’s all I’ve ever done. I don’t have kids, I finally have a girl now. I want to step into that new chapter of my life.”

“I’ve been extremely selfish and rightfully so to obtain what I’ve obtained. Can I say it again? Olympic champ, flyweight champ, bantamweight champ, and I defended both world titles. And man, I want to leave on top. I did it in wrestling and I want to do it now in the sport of mixed martial arts. And I just don’t see myself coming back. I want to remain king forever.”

When asked if UFC president Dana White could draw him back into the sport with a pay bump, Henry played coy.

“He knows the number,” Cejudo said. “But let all these other bantamweights kill each other.”

With his goals achieved, it just sounds like Cejudo wasn’t as excited to keep going in the sport.

“What I had originally thought, I was going to fight Aldo and then beat the greatest flyweight, bantamweight, and featherweight and just call it,” he said. “But going through the process of what I’m doing and cutting weight ... this is the God’s honest truth, it gets stagnant, man. It makes me want to explore different areas, if you know what I mean? I’ve been doing this since I was 11, and and I’m 33 years old now. I want to leave on top.”