Henry Cejudo Puts Off Second Retirement, Determined to Serve Merab Dvalishvili’s ‘Head on a Plate’

Henry Cejudo's second run in the UFC will continue after coming up short against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288

Henry Cejudo
Courtesy of Henry Cejudo on YouTube

As a natural competitor, Henry Cejudo can’t bring himself to walk away from mixed martial arts after coming up short in his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC 288. 

After retiring from the sport as a two-division champion in 2020, ‘Triple C’ made his triumphant return earlier this month, challenging reigning bantamweight world champion Aljamain Sterling. After 25 highly competitive minutes, ‘Funk Master’ left with his title intact via a closely-contested split decision. Following the contest, an understandably dejected Cejudo was uncertain of his next move, suggesting a second retirement may be on the horizon.

As it turns out, Henry Cejudo isn’t quite done yet. The Olympic gold medalist still has a goal and he does not intend on giving it up after one setback. Instead, ‘Triple C’ will adjust and come back with a renewed determination. Speaking on his YouTube channel, Cejudo confirmed that his UFC career will continue. In fact, he knew it would the morning after his defeat.

“Waking up that next morning and thinking of what is it I’m doing to do next, I can’t let this go like this,” Cejudo said. “I just can’t. There’s like a fire burning through my veins. There’s a little bit of anger. Want, will, desire. Determination. It has nothing to do with Aljamain [Sterling] or anybody else, but it’s myself.

“So now the challenge changes. Going from trying to accomplish something that nobody’s ever done to going back and really analyzing the timeline of what it is I have to do now to get what I want. This isn’t about Aljamain. This is about me. This is about my dream. This is about proving it to me because who knows? Maybe rewatching that fight, anybody in the top ten could probably have beaten me that night. But I’m gonna make those assessments. I’m gonna make those adjustments.” 

Henry Cejudo is Putting All of His Focus on Merab Dvalishvili

With dreams of capturing his third UFC title put on hold, Cejudo will turn his attention to the No. 1 ranked bantamweight contender, Merab Dvalishvili. ‘Triple C’ has called for a clash with the Georgian standout this summer when the promotion makes its return to Boston for UFC 292. 

“I want Merab’s head on a plate,” Cejudo continued. “He’s the number one contender. I love his style. Stylistically he’s gonna fight me the same way that Aljo’s gonna try to fight.  What they like to do is press you at least three feet to two feet against the cage and then eventually bring the wrestling in. Off the open, I don’t think either one of them is dangerous, but I will say there’s something Merab does have even more so than a guy like Aljamain Sterling.

“He does have a gas tank and he is dangerous, but the guy out of everybody in that division that he probably wouldn’t want to fight is a better wrestler than him and I love this matchup. I love the fact that he’s the number one contender I love the storyline. The fact that him and Aljo are best friends, but this is personal now. It’s personal for the simple fact that 1) I love the storyline 2) I love the fighter I’m about to fight, but then 3) it puts me in position to fight for the belt again and I think that’s what I’m after now.”

Cejudo believes his loss to Aljamain Sterling will only benefit him. Likening it to his first loss at the hands of flyweight great Demetrious Johnson, ‘Triple C’ plans to make the adjustments and bounce back, just as he did in his rematch with ‘Mighty Mouse’ at UFC 227. 

“I haven’t felt this chip on my shoulder since I left. Since the first time I fought Demetrious Johnson. Even when I lost to [Joseph] Benavidez, it wasn’t even that. I was that chip on my shoulder from Demetrious. The first one was what motivated me to become the best. To make better decisions. To adjust a lot more things. 

“These were minor things that really I was missing that I should have done in the fights. I had a great camp. I could not complain about coaches or anything. I just had to make adjustments in real time and that’s all up to me, but I think having that chip on my shoulder, the fact that I’m fighting Merab, the number one contender in the world, where it puts me, I love it.”

Published on May 16, 2023 at 2:45 pm
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