After an impressive TKO victory over Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo shocked the MMA world by announcing his retirement from the sport. Well, perhaps ‘shock’ isn’t the right word. “Triple C” had been threatening to retire for the past year if the UFC didn’t bump his pay up to a level the Olympic gold medalist thought was fair. So once the event was over, UFC president Dana White didn’t sound particularly surprised or upset about the development.
“He’s been talking about retirement to us for the past several months,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “I didn’t know he was going to do it tonight, but I knew he’s been talking about it. And you know my opinion on that: if you start talking about retirement in this business, it’s probably a good idea. Although I think he’s one of the best in the world, he looked incredible.”
White showed little interest in trying to convince Cejudo to stay, and was already sharing his thoughts on who might fight for the vacant bantamweight belt barring a sudden 180 from “Triple C.”
“It’s Petr Yan and somebody,” White said. “We’ll get that figured out too. We’ll make a title fight next week for the vacant title and probably do that fight as soon as possible.”
“We have two more fights here this week, we have Wednesday and Saturday,” he added. “So my team is gonna be buried working this week. You let that guy [Cejudo] take a week, go home, or whatever he’s going to do, and think about it. And then when we get home and get back to work on Monday, we call Henry and say ‘Is this really what you want to do?’ And if the answer is yes ... matchmaking meeting is Tuesday, we’ll have another fight on Tuesday.”
Yan reacted to the news positively over social media. He also made it clear he was willing to face #2 ranked Aljamain Sterling, who the UFC continues to pass over whenever talk of the 135 pound strap comes up.
And while the UFC sounds ready to pull the trigger on this immediately, there’s still logistical challenges that may get in the way of a fight for Cejudo’s belt. Yan is currently in Thailand and getting into the US may be a challenge.
“From what I understand, there are tournaments in May and June,” he told RT Sports. “I’m just hoping that I will be able to leave Thailand some time around June. But if not I’ll sail away on a boat to fight for the title. I’ll paddle all the way!”
Sounds like a perfect bout for Fight Island!