Henry Cejudo has at least one more fight in him.
Unfortunately for the former two-division Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion, Cejudo (16-3), things didn’t go as planned in his return to action after three years away. Cejudo, 36, challenged reigning Bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, in the main event of UFC 288 two weeks ago (May 6, 2023), resulting in a split decision win for “Funkmaster.”
Cejudo’s plan was clear from the start of his thoughts about coming back: regain the 135-pound title, defend it once, and go on to try and take the 145-pound Featherweight crown. That specific dream was dashed with the loss — for now — and Cejudo intends to remain active, hoping to land an Aug. 19, 2023 date with No. 1-ranked contender, Merab Dvalishvili, at UFC 292 in Boston, Massachusetts.
“It’s not over,” Cejudo said on his YouTube channel. “I can’t let this go like this. I just can’t. There’s like a fire burning through my veins, a little bit of anger as you want to say. Want, will, desire, determination. And it has nothing to do with Aljamain or anybody else, but it’s myself. How far and how fast can I push this body? So, the challenge changes. You’re going from trying to accomplish something that nobody’s ever done to going back and really analyzing the timeline of when you really retired and what I have to do now to get what I want. This isn’t about Aljamain. This is about me. This is about my dream.
“I want Merab’s head on a plate,” he continued. “He’s the No. 1 contender. I love the style. Stylistically, he’s gonna fight me the same way that ‘Aljo’ tried to fight. I love this match up. I love the fact that he’s the No. 1 contender. I love the storyline, the fact him and ‘Aljo’ are best friends. It’s personal now. It puts me in position to fight for the belt again. And I think that’s what I’m after now.”
If Cejudo and Dvalishvili end up fighting, it doesn’t look like it will be at that desired 15-year combat career anniversary mark of Cejudo’s. Dvalishvili revealed this week (Tues., May 16, 2023) that he just underwent a successful hand surgery and has no intentions of getting back in the Octagon all too soon.
“Hey Henry, I accepted your callout right after your fight with ‘Aljo,’ but UFC never sent me a contract or anything,” Dvalishvili said in an Instagram story (h/t MMA Junkie). “So, right now you have to wait because I’m getting surgery on my right hand, and I’ll be back with an iron hand. So you have to wait, my friend.”
Dvalishvili last fought in March 2023, earning the biggest win of his career against former champion, Petr Yan, by unanimous decision. The win extended the Georgian’s impressive winning streak to nine.