It’s hard to keep a lifelong competitor on the couch. And when you’re someone that has an Olympic pedigree, the urge to chase the next big thing is always going to be extra strong. And while retirement in MMA usually results in a waiting game to see when a retired fighter decides to come back to combat, this story may take a very unexpected and interesting detour.
Former dual UFC champ Henry Cejudo made short work of 135lb legend Dominick Cruz, and his impromptu retirement caught everyone by surprise. But within weeks of that bombshell revelation, Cejudo is making it clear that he wants to take a big bite out of boxing.
And he’s got one opponent in sight: surging phenom Ryan Garcia.
Undefeated at 20-0 with 17 knockouts, Garcia has been making the rounds lately for his impressive training footage, spectacular highlight reel, and his penchant for quieting doubters. Aside from hanging around and even training with MMA fighters as of late, Garcia had just a few weeks ago called out Cejudo for a boxing match.
So TMZ did what TMZ does and tracked down Cejudo to get his opinion on the matter. And he absolutely took the opportunity to do just that.
“I really don’t think [Ryan Garcia’s] that good. I really don’t, and I think with a proper team, the right game plan, I believe I can make him bend the knee in front of Oscar De La Hoya,”
“I feel like I have the tools, the power, the strength, the experience and we wanna make this happen.”
But he wasn’t done with Garcia, and had some parting shots as well.
“Ryan Garcia, you absolutely make me sick man. I would make you bend the knee so quick, you have no idea. You can throw about 100 punches, but it only takes one of mine to make you bend the knee, so sign the contract baby!”
A few things to observe here are the fact that Cejudo mentions a mystery backer that would be able to set up the event, and the possibility of Saudi Arabia being an ideal venue for it. Garcia seems down, but his management under Golden Boy and Oscar De La Hoya still has to sign off on this, which would be a detour from more experienced opposition to continue to build Garcia up.
Of course, the biggest obstacle could be on Cejudo’s end. Just because you’re retired from the UFC doesn’t mean your contract is null and void all of a sudden. When asked by TMZ if a boxing match would create any conflict with Cejudo’s UFC contract, he had this to say (at the 1:22 mark):
You know what, that’s up to the — my agent, my manager, Ali Abdelaziz has to go through all that. But he feels — he sounds very confident to make this fight happen. So, you know, I’m all about the next challenge, Steve. I’ve conquered so much of my life. You imagine having a (boxing) world title under my belt? You imagine being a dude like that? Then there’s no, no — you’re the greatest (combat) sports athlete of all time.
Greatness in MMA wasn’t enough. Even though there was some interest and speculation that Cejudo would try his hand at the sweet science prior to pivoting to MMA, this is a different situation as he’s a much more seasoned combat athlete taking on a possible future legend that is barely above legal drinking age. Lots of questions remain, but the way things are going these days, you can just never really tell what might and might not come to fruition.
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