He’s back! After quite literally years of talking, it appears Henry Cejudo has taken the first steps to actually step back in the octagon.
It was announced early Monday morning that Cejudo would be re-joining the USADA testing pool, according to ESPN reports per his manager. (Note: USADA is the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the third-party drug testing company that the UFC works with to test their fighters).
After two years of retirement, Henry Cejudo will re-enter the USADA drug-testing pool Monday, his manager Ali Abdelaziz told @marc_raimondi.
Per the UFC's anti-doping policy, fighters re-entering the pool are typically tested for six months before being eligible to compete. pic.twitter.com/L0X1UXBRaD
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 11, 2022
According to Cejudo, the decision came after witnessing the title fights during Saturday’s UFC 273, which saw Aljamain Sterling defeat Petr Yan to unify the bantamweight belts in the co-main event, and Alexander Volkanovski successfully defending his featherweight championship against The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung. Cejudo said he was “inspired” by the title title fights he saw, according to the ESPN article.
Cejudo held the UFC’s flyweight title before claiming the bantamweight title at the same time. He became part of an elite group of “double champions”, or “champ champs”, in the UFC’s history, joining the company of only Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, and Amanda Nunes. Cejudo went on to nickname himself “Triple C”, short for triple champion, because he also claims an Olympic gold medal from the 2008 Olympics in wrestling.
Cejudo surprisingly retired after successfully defending his bantamweight belt against Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 (the infamous first covid show) in May 2020.
Cejudo has hinted at returning and called out opponents essentially since his retirement. So much so that UFC President Dana White himself has publicly said in the past that he’s welcome to come back but he’d have to take the necessary steps to do so, which he wasn’t at the time, so his callouts were pointless.
Now that Cejudo is officially rejoining the USADA testing pool, that key first step is officially taken. As the ESPN story notes, typically fighters need to have about six months of clean testing with USADA before they are eligible to step back in the octagon.
Cejudo has called out lots of fighters during his brief retirement, but perhaps none more than current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who defended his title this past weekend. Cejudo has made it clear that he would like to become the first person in history to win a belt in three different weight divisions. At the rate that Volkanovski is going, it may take someone like Cejudo to be the person to dethrone him.
Personally, I’m pumped about this. I was disappointed when Cejudo retired because he stepped away when he was at the top of his game. It was similar to Khabib’s retirement. It felt like we still had so much more to see from him but instead he stepped away. Outside of the Volkanovski and Max Holloway trilogy fight, a fight with Cejudo is the fight to make right now! It would be a thrilling fight and offer some new competition to Volkanovski, who is starting to run out of challengers with a thin list of contenders at featherweight right now.