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3 reasons why Henry Cejudo is an all-time great and 2 reasons why he's not

Henry Cejudo is set for a return to the UFC in the near future, but is he an all-time great?
Henry Cejudo is set for a return to the UFC in the near future, but is he an all-time great?
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Scott Newman

According to recent reports, former UFC bantamweight and flyweight champion Henry Cejudo is set to return to the octagon in the near future in what should be a huge deal for the promotion.

Thanks to his outspoken nature, Henry Cejudo is definitely a fighter who divides the opinion of the fans, but should ‘Triple C’ be recognized as an all-time great of the UFC?

One of the greatest? Tell @espnmma who have a better combat resume than me? I am the greatest combat athlete of all time! #bendtheknee 🐐 twitter.com/espnmma/status…

In this instance, there are definitely some fair arguments for Cejudo being considered a UFC legend. However, there’s also a fair argument the other way that might suggest he’s overrated.

With that considered, here are three reasons why Henry Cejudo is an all-time great of the UFC and two reasons why he’s not.


#3. Henry Cejudo has impressive wins over some legends of the UFC

Cejudo's win over Demetrious Johnson should be considered a massive achievement in its own right
Cejudo's win over Demetrious Johnson should be considered a massive achievement in its own right

To determine whether a fighter should be considered an all-time great of the octagon, a close look at their record, both inside and outside the UFC, should obviously be taken.

In that sense, Henry Cejudo’s record stands up against any other fighter of his era who might be considered an all-time great.

‘Triple C’ didn’t beat anyone notable before joining the UFC, but that’s because he only needed six bouts on the regional scene before the world’s biggest promotion inked him to a deal. Inside the octagon, though, his record prior to his 2020 retirement was fantastic.

Not only did Cejudo pull off wins over a trio of genuine UFC legends in the form of Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz, but it’s arguable that the latter two performances were the best of his career.

It took him just 32 seconds to dispatch Dillashaw, and his TKO of Cruz made him the only man to ever stop ‘The Dominator’ in an MMA fight.

THAT'S IT! MESSAGE SENT!🏆 @HenryCejudo DEFENDS AND STOPS DOMINICK CRUZ! #UFC249 https://t.co/bqWcYPsuDu

Outside of those three wins, though, he also picked up victories over Sergio Pettis, who went onto capture gold in Bellator MMA, and Jussier Formiga, who was once seen as the world’s best 125lber.

‘Triple C’ did suffer two losses, but he avenged one when he defeated Johnson in their rematch. Most fans felt he’d done enough to deserve the nod from the judges against Joseph Benavidez anyway.

Essentially, Cejudo’s record holds up to scrutiny, meaning he should be considered an all-time great.

#2. Henry Cejudo is the only Olympic gold medalist to claim UFC gold

Henry Cejudo is the only Olympic gold medallist to win a UFC title
Henry Cejudo is the only Olympic gold medallist to win a UFC title

For those who are unaware, Henry Cejudo’s nickname when he initially joined the UFC was ‘The Messenger’. He only changed it to ‘Triple C’ when he claimed the promotion’s bantamweight title in 2019.

‘Triple C’, of course, refers to the fact that Cejudo has held three major titles in his career – the UFC’s bantamweight and flyweight titles, and a gold medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Incredibly, while there have been a number of Olympic medalists to join the UFC over the years, success at the Olympic level – whether it’s in wrestling, or another sport such as judo – doesn’t always guarantee success in the octagon.

Cejudo is, in fact, the only Olympic gold medalist to claim gold inside the octagon too. He’s also only the second Olympic medalist overall to win a title, following in the footsteps of Ronda Rousey, who claimed a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 games.

An Olympic Gold medal, 2 division world champion in the UFC (defended both belts) and let’s not forget my first girlfriend ever @amandadallagoc 😉 That’s one hell of a career if you ask me you dirty q-tip. @sugaseanmma 💋 ❤️ #Thelegendsoflegends https://t.co/INKRdhZRXc

With that considered, then, it’s probably safe to say that Cejudo’s overall athletic accomplishments are nearly unmatched in the history of not just the UFC, but MMA in general. That alone should mean he’s considered an all-time great.


#1. Henry Cejudo is one of the UFC’s only double champions

Henry Cejudo is one of just four fighters to hold two UFC titles simultaneously
Henry Cejudo is one of just four fighters to hold two UFC titles simultaneously

The main reason that Henry Cejudo should be considered an all-time great of the UFC is the fact that he’s part of a very exclusive club in the promotion’s history.

Along with Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes, all of whom would be considered bonafide UFC legends by most parties, Cejudo is one of the only fighters to hold two UFC titles in separate weight classes simultaneously.

‘Triple C’ famously won the promotion’s flyweight title in the summer of 2018, unseating longtime champion Demetrious Johnson, a huge accomplishment in its own right.

He then claimed bantamweight gold a year later, stopping Marlon Moraes for the title after T.J. Dillashaw was forced to vacate following a positive drug test.

When you consider that the UFC has only had a total of 86 different champions across 12 divisions in its near-30 years of existence, even claiming a single title in the octagon is incredibly tricky, let alone claiming two at the same time.

Given that Cejudo is one of only four fighters to achieve this, it’s nearly impossible not to consider him an all-time great.

#2. Henry Cejudo’s biggest wins came with caveats

TJ Dillashaw has claimed he was drained by a drastic weight cut in his loss to Henry Cejudo
TJ Dillashaw has claimed he was drained by a drastic weight cut in his loss to Henry Cejudo

Even the best fighters with the best records can have their career dissected by doubters, and Henry Cejudo is certainly no exception in that sense, particularly when it comes to his biggest wins.

Cejudo’s status as an all-time great usually centers around his victories over Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz. Unfortunately, in the eyes of some observers, all three wins came with caveats.

Cejudo’s win over Johnson was one of the most controversial title wins in UFC history, as he edged ‘Mighty Mouse’ out via split decision. Many observers felt that Johnson deserved the nod, particularly as he hurt ‘Triple C’ badly with low kicks in the opening round.

One of the closest fights ever scored on Verdict.Here is the Raw Data for Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo. Final Score: 47.60 - 47.46 Cejudo https://t.co/Ha89ldTrX0

His wins over Dillashaw and Cruz certainly couldn’t be questioned, as he stopped both men via TKO. However, many fans, as well as Dillashaw himself, pointed out that the then-bantamweight champion had drained himself to make the 125-pound flyweight limit, making him more vulnerable to the kind of strikes that stopped him.

Cruz, meanwhile, could be argued to have been past his best when Cejudo stopped him in May 2020, although given he’s won two fights since, it’s arguable that wasn’t the case.

Essentially, nobody can take Cejudo’s biggest wins away from him, but it is possible for a doubter to argue that the nature of those wins means he shouldn’t be considered an all-time great.


#1. Henry Cejudo didn’t stick around long enough to become a legend

Did Henry Cejudo hang up his gloves too early to be considered a legend?
Did Henry Cejudo hang up his gloves too early to be considered a legend?

Perhaps the biggest reason that critics might have for not considering Henry Cejudo an all-time great is the fact that he simply didn’t stick around long enough at the top of the UFC.

Cejudo signed with the promotion in 2014 and debuted against Dustin Kimura that December. He didn’t ascend to the top of the mountain until the summer of 2018, when he unseated Demetrious Johnson to claim the flyweight title.

From there, ‘Triple C’ made an impressive defense of his title against then-bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw, and then claimed the bantamweight title in his own right by defeating Marlon Moraes when Dillashaw was forced to vacate.

However, he then sat out for the best part of a year while holding both titles. While he defeated Dominick Cruz to retain the bantamweight crown upon his return in May 2020, ‘The Dominator’ wasn’t the rightful top contender at the time.

More to the point, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist then stepped away from the UFC altogether following his victory, leaving many fans wondering about what might’ve been.

Hey @danawhite my retirement was sincere but watching you guys give belts to these “RENT A champs” makes me CrInGe! - The one and only Triple C. #bendtheknee https://t.co/IsrjiSkKi4

Essentially, while he won two titles simultaneously, the fact that Cejudo only achieved two successful title defenses, one in each of his divisions, means that it’s hard to consider him a true legend.

Had ‘Triple C’ stuck around at bantamweight to turn back the challenge of fighters like Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling, then it’d be hard to ever question his status. However, as it is – unless his return brings more glory – it’s hard to put him up with the likes of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre as an all-time great.

Edited by Harvey Leonard
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