Pre-fight Analysis

Henry Cejudo is Returning: 3 Possible Opponents

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Following the events of UFC 273, Henry Cejudo announced his intentions to re-enter the USADA testing pool and make his long awaited return to the UFC. Triple C is one of the most popular fighters in recent years, particularly within the lower weight classes, and no doubt that a return to the octagon would be highly anticipated by both fans and pundits alike. Indeed, being one of the few fighters to hold multiple championships at one time and with wins over the likes of TJ Dillashaw, Dominic Cruz, Marlon Moraes and of course possible GOAT Demetrious Johnson, Cejudo has a resume which would allow him to gain an immediate title shot once he returns. Here are some possible matchups for Triple C to take.

Possible Opponents for the Return of Triple C

Alexander Volkanovski

This fight could be the most likely to occur. Alexander Volkanovski is incredibly dominant at featherweight with Max Holloway being the only one who looks capable of beating the champ. As their previous two encounters saw Volkanovski come out on top, there is only a limited number of times the UFC can match the two together before fans begin to lose interest. After his demolition of The Korean Zombie last Saturday it is clear that an opening is there for a fighter to call out Volkanovski and gain a title shot. Cejudo knows this also and immediately called out the featherweight champ after his win—indeed, an excellent move.

This fight works for so many reasons. Firstly, Cejudo actually has the resume and credentials that could warrant an immediate title fight, unlike say if Conor McGregor comes back and faces Kamaru Usman for the belt. Also as said before, Volkanovski has essentially cleared out the division beating Holloway twice, Brian Ortega and now Chan Sung Jung. He needs high profile challengers and Cejudo would most certainly provide that. The narrative of this fight is also a major reason to make it happen. If Cejudo was victorious over Volkanovski, he would become the first fighter in history to be a champion in three separate weight classes. This by itself is nearly enough reason to book it at once.

Winner of Sterling vs Dillashaw

Following Aljamain Sterling‘s somewhat controversial decision win over Petr Yan at UFC 273, Dana White has stated that the next title fight at bantamweight will more than likely be between Sterling and former champion TJ Dillashaw. Regardless of the outcome of that fight, Cejudo has a strong case to fight both, particularly Dillashaw. Of course, he can go down the road of “I was never actually beaten for the belt, give me my title shot” but if Dillashaw wins he has the added claim of already knocking out TJ in the first round in a fight for the flyweight belt in 2019. This would also provide an excellent narrative that fans could be invested in and would further enhance Cejudo’s legacy, if he beat one of the divisions goats at two separate weight classes, both in title fights.

Deiveson Figueiredo

A return to the division where it all began for Henry Cejudo. Flyweight was where he went from being just another ranked fighter to a star of the sport following his win over longtime champion Demetrious Johnson. The division is also currently in need of some fresh faces. with a fourth fight set to be booked between current champ Deiveson Figueiredo and rival Brandon Moreno. The flyweight title picture has turned into an extreme version of the Volkanovski – Holloway situation where two fighters just constantly rematch one another. The only alternate contender who has emerged in this time is Kai-Kara France. Kara – France just fought recently and will likely be out of action for a few months following his win over Askar Askarov. Instead of a fourth title fight between Figueiredo and Moreno, what would undoubtedly attract more attention from the fans would be a fight between the current champ and Triple C.  The 4th fight with Moreno is there to be made at any time, Cejudo can only have one comeback fight and the flyweight division could do with a much needed publicity boost.

Despite the various possible opponents, all come with the same possible negative. One would wonder if Cejudo would have any interest in actually defending any belt that he won. While in the past he has always defended at least once, it would not be unreasonable to assume that Cejudo’s comeback is all about making big fights. So, say if Cejudo beats Figueiredo, would he defend or would he jump up a division and take the undoubtedly bigger fight in a match between Sterling or Dillashaw rather than a flyweight defense? Will Cejudo hop from weight class to weight class during his second run in the promotion or will he attempt to dominate a division, creating a legacy as a true champion who defeated all who attempted to dethrone him? That remains to be seen.

Main Image:Embed from Getty Images

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