Undefeated UFC Fighters: Henry Cejudo
Stats are against Henry Cejudo, one of the undefeated UFC fighters. None of the 18 athletes who have competed in both the Olympics and the UFC have reached the absolute pinnacle in both athletic endeavors. Ronda Rousey did manage to snatch the belt, even defend it against 5 contenders, but many doubt Henry Cejudo can accomplish the same.
George Lockhart talked to Henry about the weight cut process which was going terribly. Henry was always the guy who ran the mile the fastest and he could always eat what he wants. Also, he could be undisciplined because he still has the fastest mile. Brian Stann believes Henry could have that upset potential, especially after Holly Holm’s performance. Brian notes that Henry is not on the level of Demetrious Johnson, but also points out that Cejudo has competed on the biggest stage - the Olympics, while also proving to be the kind of athlete that rises to the occasion. The bigger the competition, the greater Henry could grow, appearing to be a better fighter than he actually is.
So, who is Henry Cejudo, what kind of fighter is he, and what has enabled him to remain undefeated so far in the UFC? Let’s have a closer look.
Henry Cejudo started training in wrestling along his brother Angel while attending high school. Winning 4 state championships, and with an impressive record of 150-0, he was invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He made a very bold move deciding not to compete at college level after becoming the first high schooler to win US Nationals. Instead, he focused on full time training to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Henry entered the 2008 Beijing Olympics qualified in the 121-pound weight class. In his first round match, versus Radoslav Velikov, he lost the first period, although winning both remaining periods to win the match. In the quarterfinals, Henry faced Besarion Gochashvili, again losing the first period and bouncing back in the remaining two. In the semifinals, he again recovered the last two periods to win against Namig Sevdimov, and he qualified to fight for the gold.
The final match for gold proved what Brian Stann observed about Henry. Cejudo was able to perform above his level, and he bested Tomohiro Matsunaga in the first two rounds, securing the the top prize. Henry not only achieved his dream of becoming an Olympic gold medalist, but also made history by becoming the youngest American to do so in freestyle wrestling.
Henry Cejudo entered trials for the 2012 Olympics but failed against Nick Simmons. Then and there he decided to retire from wrestling. Next year he announced his move to MMA. His debut match was versus Michael Poe in WFF Pascua Yaqui Fights 4. Although much lighter than his opponent, Henry managed to secure victory by submission halfway through first round. As his coach said, wrestling is a great base for MMA, and with Henry’s heart of a champion it was quite easy first fight.
Henry went on to score six victories and no losses over the course of next year, 3 by TKO, 1 by submission and 2 by decision. He was placed at #1 on the MMA Prospects Report for the year 2013. It was his entry ticket for signing up with UFC.
As the third Olympic gold medal wrestler in the history of UFC, Henry Cejudo signed up in July of 2014. However, his first match was canceled due to medical issues. President Dana White remarked that Henry must beef up to bantamweight or leave the UFC. So, Henry debuted in the bantamweight class on UFC on Fox 13, facing Dustin Kimura, and went on to win the fight by unanimous decision.
Henry attended UFC 185 on March 2015 to face former flyweight title challenger Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso. Cejudo showcased everything one could want to see from a top MMA prospect. His striking was clean and powerful, his wrestling, as expected, was very technical. He took some punches, and defended a few submissions without flinching, again winning by unanimous decision.
Chico Camus and Henry Cejudo clashed at UFC 188 in June of 2015. Although Henry won by unanimous decision, this is where it showed that he still has much to learn. Apparently caught in his rapidly developing striking, Henry didn’t manage to overcome Camus’ defence against takedowns. Showing little ability to smoothly connect with his wrestling, striking, and grappling, Henry provoked many experts to claim he is not ready for the title challenge. However, Cejudo did score a victory, and went on to face one more opponent before stepping in line as a contender.
At Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale in November of 2015, Henry Cejudo faced Jussier “Formiga” Da Silva. With his cutting weight issues behind him, and with solid streak of victories, Henry entered the fight as top dog against the struggling Formiga. However, the match started slow, as both fighters were too cautious. Soon, it was clear that Cejuda would be the aggressive one, with Formiga hoping to counter the blows. This matched showed more of what has become Henry’s style. Somewhat surprisingly, his focus was not on wrestling. He scored an occasional takedown, but overall struggled to hold his opponent down. Instead, he used wrestling as a confidence booster to bolster his movement and application of pressure. No one has been able to counter his bursts for a reactive takedown, so they are forced to trade punches, and Henry is a solid boxer with good power. That’s how he managed to control the match, despite his lacking performance in the match against Formiga. The fight was won by a split decision.
While Henry’s fights did secure him the position to challenge the champion, many give Cejudo slim chances at wrestling the belt from hands of ‘Mighty Mouse’. Henry has definitely earned his chance to face Demetrius Johnson; they will face off at UFC 197 as the main event.