‘I didn’t win’ – Henry Cejudo gets real about UFC 288 loss, doesn’t care about moral victories

Henry Cejudo didn't have a lot of kind words for himself after his close loss to Aljamain Sterling on Saturday night.

By: Jack Wannan | 3 weeks ago
‘I didn’t win’ – Henry Cejudo gets real about UFC 288 loss, doesn’t care about moral victories
Henry Cejudo provided a harsh critique of himself after losing at UFC 288. | IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

It’s no rare occurrence when a fighter on the losing side of a split decision finds themselves bitter about the result. To the point that many find themselves in outright denial. The fact that one judge saw the fight for them, or that possibly the difference of one round determined who walked away with a victory is no easy thing for many athletes to deal with.

But following his defeat at the hands of Aljamain Sterling on Saturday night, at UFC 288, former two-division titleholder Henry Cejudo wasn’t entertaining much spin on the baseline facts of his fight. While leaving open the option that he could have won, Cejudo stressed that he’d have to watch the bout back. Whatever the outcome could have been, he felt defeated because the contest wasn’t a dominant victory.

Henry Cejudo provides sobering UFC 288 loss

The former champ—who was returning to the cage for the first time after retiring more than three years ago—was critical of his fight afterward, stating that he “could have adjusted on some things” and made “stupid little errors.” After the fight, he provided a critical statement on his outlook on the bout and the rest of his career in general.

“I’m out here to make history. And if I can’t make history, I’m not doing this sh-t. That’s how much of a competitor I am,” said Cejudo during his post-fight press conference. “My coach [was telling me] ‘yeah you won! You won!’ But I didn’t win. The belt’s not around my waist. I just gotta talk to my family, talk to my wife, then take it from there. It has nothing to with anybody, nothing to do with ego. Just has to do with me. It’s like trying to climb Mount Everest and you don’t do it.”

‘I’m out to chase greatness’

Last weekend, Cejudo was looking to reclaim a spot that he previously held at bantamweight, as the division’s champion from 2019 to 2020—first gaining the belt with a stoppage victory over Marlon Moraes. He defended the title once with a finish against Dominick Cruz before hanging up his gloves to invest his time into coaching.

After Saturday’s performance, Cejudo discussed how he only wants to compete at the top of a division. At one point, he revealed how his plan when returning was to beat Sterling, then face bantamweight contender Sean O’Malley and featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.

“I gotta go back and really think about what is it that I want to do. Because I’m out to chase greatness. I’m not out here to fight just to fight, man. To hear the crowd roar, you guys tell me ‘good job, I think you won.’ My dream is to reach mountains that nobody’s ever climbed, and I think that’s partially why I take my resume so seriously. That’s probably why I even started this schtick. ‘Cause I’m proud of it.”

Family first

Henry Cejudo didn’t outright say he was done following his loss, but he admitted that things are more complicated at this point in his life. ‘Triple C’ is no longer just a competitor with the goal of winning, he’s also a father and is expecting a second kid soon. The 36-year-old mentioned how time away from his child during fight camp had an impact on him.

“I don’t know. I gotta lay back. My wife’s pregnant. We’re getting ready to have another kid,” said Cejudo, talking about when he can fight again. “Even these last two-to-three months, not being able to give my kid that attention… I’m a good father, man. I love spending time with my kid, I love playing with them … The time with my kid means the world to me, especially the fact that I have another on the way.”

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About the author
Jack Wannan
Jack Wannan

Jack Wannan is a reporter for Bloody Elbow. He joined the site in 2023 after previously writing for MMA-Prospects.com and Knockdown News. He is currently in the process of earning a bachelor's degree in journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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