Having ascended both the bantamweight and flyweight mountaintops, defending his place on both, Cejudo hung up his gloves in 2020 following a victory over Dominick Cruz at UFC 249. But whilst he vacated the belts, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist’s MMA retirement always appeared to be somewhat loose.
And alas, following months of back and forth with fighters and teasing about a potential comeback, “Triple C” advanced his return plans closer to reality by re-entering the USADA testing pool earlier this year.
While he appeared set on pushing for a shot at securing what would be a historic championship crowning at featherweight, UFC President Dana White has insisted that Cejudo would need to re-conquer the 135-pound weight class first — something that the former bantamweight king appears willing to do.
But although Cejudo seems to boast lofty ambitions inside the Octagon once again, including another run as a simultaneous champ-champ on MMA’s biggest stage, if he wasn’t restricted by contractual limits, he would likely be plying his trade elsewhere.
At the point of his retirement, and the years since, many have pondered whether Cejudo’s decision derived from a desire to earn more for his outings — the perceived hope being that a pseudo retirement would convince the UFC to offer him bigger purses.
Perhaps adding some fuel to that fire, Cejudo commented on the financial aspect of his career during a recent live Q&A on his YouTube channel.
When asked whether he’d sacrifice the platform of the UFC for more money in a smaller promotion, “Triple C” suggested that had he retired after fighting out his contract, leaving him as free agent, he wouldn’t be returning to the Octagon.
“It depends, man, it depends what you’re looking for; depends what you want. I think in my situation, bro, I want the money,” Cejudo said. “At this point, when you conquer everything and had everything, especially having a kid now, it changes the game. I want those dollar bills, you know what I’m saying?
“It depends what you want and what you’re looking for, but If I was a free agent, man, I probably wouldn’t be with the UFC to be quite frank. That’s just facts,” Cejudo added. “When you’re the best in the world, it’s a different game.”
Cejudo’s comments come just over a week on from Shane Burgos’ decision to chase the bag. After six years in the UFC, “Hurricane” relinquished his place in the featherweight top 15 having fought out his contract with a victory over Charles Jourdain at UFC Long Island.
After receiving an offer that he couldn’t turn down, Burgos signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), where he’ll be earning a significant pay check for each fight, as well as the chance to secure $1 million in winnings by becoming the 2023 champion.
What do you make of Henry Cejudo’s comments?