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One of the most surprising developments in the Ultimate Fighting Championship over the past week was Henry Cejudo’s retirement announcement following his victory over Dominick Cruz in the UFC 249 co-main event.
While many believed it was little more than a negotiating ploy, “Triple C” insisted that his motives were sincere.
“I want to start that new chapter of my life .. I could never fight and try to raise a family,” he said at the UFC 249 post-fight press conference. “I know what it takes, and I know that I’m very selfish to myself.
“It’s not a plot. When I walked away from wrestling I completely walked away, never looked back. I almost feel the same way with mixed martial arts, and wrestling was my first love.”
However, Cejudo also left the door slightly ajar for a potential return – if the price is right. “I know my worth,” he said.
Cejudo’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, doesn’t believe that the Olympic gold medalist is prepared to walk away from fighting just yet. Without saying it directly, the Dominance MMA head implied that financial issues could be involved.
“First of all, people understand my relationship with Dana White and the UFC. I don’t [talk] about money publicly,” Abdelaziz told TMZ Sports. “I think Dana’s right. I think Henry’s been talking about retirement. Do I think Henry’s gonna retire? Absolutely not. I don’t think Henry’s gonna retire.”
Abdelaziz pointed to another champion that he represents, lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov, as a prime example of someone who wrestles with the notion of retirement after every UFC appearance. Each time, Nurmagomedov ultimately elects to keep fighting. Abdelaziz expects that Cejudo could follow a similar path.
“Khabib right? Every time he fights, ‘I think I’m done.’ Two weeks later, ‘Who do you think I should fight next?’ Right?” Abdelaziz said. “These guys, they’re at their prime. Henry’s gonna be coming now into his prime. How you gonna retire in your prime, and the [UFC 249] pay-per-view did so well, and you’ve gotta make some money? Could things be changed a little bit? Yes, of course. But at the end of the day, this is between us. It’s between me and Henry and the UFC. I don’t think the media should know about this stuff, because people’s egos get big.”
At UFC 249, Cejudo joined Daniel Cormier as the only two fighters to successfully defend belts in two different weight classes. Cejudo is currently on a six-bout winning streak that includes victories over the likes of Cruz, Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes. His stock has never been higher, and Abdelaziz expects that Cejudo could return to the Octagon in the very near future.
“Henry’s got everybody on their knees right now,” Abdelaziz said. “I don’t think he’s gonna retire. You’re gonna see him fight by this summer. This is what I think.”