It’s UFC 298 fight week, taking place this weekend (Sat., Feb. 17, 2024) inside Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and you know what that means: time for another episode of UFC Countdown.
The series provides fight fans with a behind-the-scenes look into the biggest fights on upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) events. It’s been going on since UFC 83 — 16 years ago — so it can feel a little stale sometimes. But, this episode had a hard-hitting moment where Henry Cejudo fires his coach in front of the cameras.
Cejudo has been training with Eric Albarracin — a former United States wrestling national team member in freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling — for more than one decade. Albarracin was there with Cejudo through his rocky start in UFC and helped “Triple C” become a double champion. He went off with Cejudo into the wilderness after he decided to retire in 2020 ... and then helped him comeback for his fight against Aljamain Sterling in 2023.
That’s a fight that Cejudo lost via split decision. And apparently the result was bad enough that Cejudo decided to change things up for his UFC 298 fight against Merab Dvalishvili in “The Golden State.”
Henry Cejudo removes Coach Eric Albarracin on the latest episode of UFC Countdown: pic.twitter.com/SCAT4iMRxJ— Oscar Willis (@oscarswillis) February 11, 2024
“You were with me from my last Olympic trials, you’ve been there for me,” Cejudo tells an emotional Albarracin. “But, as of right now, I just want to let you know that for this camp, dude, I’m getting rid of specific coaches, man. That’s you included, dude.”
“Sometimes you are too close to somebody and people just get too comfortable,” Cejudo explained to the Countdown crew later.
Albarracin takes the awkward on-camera situation with about as much grace as one can given the circumstances.
“The goal has always been the same,” he said. “For you to be the greatest combat sports athlete of all time. And to me, that was a dream come true.”
“This is why this man is the GOAT coach,” Cejudo said, slapping a teary Albarracin on the shoulder. “The most unselfish human that you will ever meet. Captain Eric Albarracin.”
It’s a bold strategy for Cejudo, given the stellar reputation Albarracin has garnered at Fight Ready MMA in Scottsdale, Ariz., over the years.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 298 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET (simulcast on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET), before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 298: “Volkanovski vs. Topuria” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.