Since the first option for his next fight is potentially sidelined for several months due to a recent surgery, Henry Cejudo says he would go after the second option: UFC champion Brandon Moreno. Following his loss to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288 this past May, ’Triple C’ pondered — and opted against — another retirement to focus on securing another championship opportunity. Cejudo set his sights on a potential No. 1 contender against Merab Dvalishvili, the Serra-Longo Fight Team product on a nine-fight win streak.
However, the ‘Machine’ recently underwent hand surgery and revealed he would not return for three to four months. Instead of waiting for Dvalishvili, Henry Cejudo has started to consider some of his other options, including Moreno. The ‘Assassin Baby’ already has his next assignment against Alexandre Pantoja, but if he gets through the ‘Cannibal,’ the Fight Ready representative says he would share the Octagon with Moreno.
“If the UFC wants to show us the money after this fight if he does beat Pantoja, that we do a showdown between me and him,” said Cejudo in a recent interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN.
Henry Cejudo vs. Brandon Moreno at…bantamweight?
There is a hurdle in front of Henry Cejudo vs. Brandon Moreno, though. Despite his previous status as a two-division UFC champion, Cejudo says he would not return to flyweight, so a fight with Moreno would have to be booked for bantamweight.
That said, if the UFC throws him enough money, the 36-year-old could consider one final cut to settle the score with his former friend turned foe.
“No, bring him up and then who knows? If the UFC is willing to offer me a bunch of money to go down to 125, I’ll do it,” said Cejudo. “That’s not my plan. But if Brandon wants this smoke, and I know what I used to do to him in sparring. If he wants this smoke, if he gets past Pantoja, which I know he won’t, I’ll be willing to do that fight, too.
“A good old Mexican showdown and trust me, I want a piece of him,” continued Cejudo. “I called him out the first time. I wanted to fight him after he went over with Joseph Benavidez and trained with him and didn’t tell me, and I had to find out through social media. I called him out. He says, ‘Henry, te quiero mucho. Henry, I like you too much. I got too much love for you to fight you’. I left it at that. We no longer became friends.
“There’s bad blood there. There’s a great storyline. Obviously, he’s the baby face in the UFC. I’m the heel. Show me the money, let’s make it happen, baby.”
Moreno has previously said he would move up from flyweight to bantamweight for Cejudo, so that hurdle is cleared.
The alleged origin of beef between Henry Cejudo and Brandon Moreno
Henry Cejudo and his coach Eric Albarracin says the bad blood with Brandon Moreno started during Season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter. The pair say they were the reason the Mexican fighter got on the show, but when Moreno was chosen to be on Team Joseph Benavidez, the friendship fractured.
“The day they pick the fighters, you only see them once to train, and then you’re supposed to pick them. They’re ranked 1-16, but we don’t know who is seeded,“ said Albarracin on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “Henry wants Brandon Moreno. In my mind, we know Brandon Moreno is good, but we know they didn’t know who he was, so I’m like, ‘Nobody’s going to pick him first. We can get him second. Let’s get the highest seed possible. Business.’ Because it would go if you picked 2, they get 15, if you picked 3, they get 14 and vice versa.
“[Joseph] Benavidez wins the flip, picks Tim Elliott, fourth seed but he’s the only UFC veteran, went on to win the show,“ continued Albarracin. “We get Kai Kara-France, 12th seed [by default]. We get the call. Dana White is here with the list, the seeds, and I can see them. So I look and it says No. 1 [Alexandre] Pantoja, and I’m like, ‘Dude, we can go get the No. 1 seed right now, Pantoja’s available.’ He’s like, ‘No, I want to pick Brandon Moreno.’ I’m like, ‘Man, business-wise, we’re going to send the other guy, the 16th seed, to the other side though. Brandon will be there, trust me.’
“Business-wise, if we get Brandon Moreno, who could be anywhere from 10 to 14 we were thinking, we send them another high seed and we start with a low seed. So we already started with 12 and then we’re going to get 13. And then they get a pick and they pick the No. 1 seed, so they start 1, 2, 3, 4, and we’re with 12, 13, 16. Tournament’s over already. So I’m like, ‘We’ve got to pick Pantoja.’ He picks Pantoja, and who do you think is the No. 16 seed? Moreno. Friendship’s over.”
Moreno went on to train with Benavidez, who fought Cejudo at TUF 24 Finale. ‘Joe B’ defeated ‘Triple C’ via split decision. The rest, as they say, was history.
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