There’s been a whole lot of speculation regarding whether former double champ Henry Cejudo was serious about retiring from mixed martial arts (MMA) after his latest and arguably greatest win over former Bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz. But one party who is no longer entertaining any other possibility is UFC. The promotion has just updated its rankings page to reflect the new reality at 135 pounds: Cejudo is no longer listed as the division’s champion, and has been taken out of the rankings altogether.
Cejudo spent the last two years on quite the tear, winning the Flyweight title off the seemingly unbeatable Demetrious Johnson and then going on to win the Bantamweight belt as well. But behind the scenes his dissatisfaction with UFC pay grew. Indignities like accepting a pay cut to fight for the Flyweight title paint the all too common picture of the UFC as a “take it or leave it” negotiator rather than a partner, and we can only assume there was no red panty night in sight for the Olympic gold medalist even after he accepted a late switch from Jose Aldo to Dominick Cruz to help keep UFC 249 on track.
After his surprise retirement announcement at that event, UFC President Dana White didn’t sound all that shocked or interested in trying to convince Cejudo to change his mind. Before the night was out he was already halfway through matchmaking a title fight for Henry’s soon to be vacated title between, “Petr Yan and somebody.”
“You let that guy [Cejudo] take a week, go home, or whatever he’s going to do, and think about it,” White said on May 9, 2020. “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.”
While Henry Cejudo’s manager sounded confident that a deal could be reached to keep Cejudo around, it looks like the UFC has decided to move on. Not all that surprising, given its general attitude toward anyone not named Conor McGregor trying to make any kind of financial demands. So we hope Henry is comfortable with his choice, because it seems like his old bosses are.