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Henry Cejudo in California for UFC 298, February 2024 (Photo by Nolan Walker/Zuffa LLC)
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Henry Cejudo: ‘I’m Here To Take What’s Mine’

Former Two-Division Champion Henry Cejudo Challenges Merab Dvalishvili At UFC 298: Volkanovski vs Topuria In Anaheim, California

Since signing with the UFC nearly a decade ago, former two-division champion Henry Cejudo has wanted one thing: to go down as the greatest combat sports athlete of all time.

By the time Cejudo temporarily retired in 2020, he earned a gold medal in wrestling at the 2008 Olympic Games and held two UFC titles simultaneously. What more did “Triple C” need to accomplish?

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The issue with being labeled as the greatest at anything is there’s always room for speculation, which is why Cejudo decided to return to competition last May with the goal of setting himself so far apart from the rest of the pack that no one could debate where he stands in combat sports history.

Cejudo’s goal was to reclaim the bantamweight title in his comeback fight, then move up to 145 pounds and capture the featherweight title. If he were to succeed, he’d be the only UFC fighter in history to win a title in three weight divisions.

Henry Cejudo kicks TJ Dillashaw in their flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Barclays Center on January 19, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Henry Cejudo kicks TJ Dillashaw in their flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Barclays Center on January 19, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

In his comeback fight, Cejudo fought then-bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288 in Newark, New Jersey. In an extremely close main event, Sterling got the better of Cejudo on two of the three judges’ scorecards. The loss stung, as Cejudo was now three wins away from the goal he came out of retirement to achieve.

“Do I regret the retirement,” Cejudo asked himself. “No, not one bit. As a matter of fact, when I had my injury and I was out for a year before I came back and fought Dominick Cruz, that’s when I knew it was time to hang it up. How many people have fun while they’re injured? I had a chance to do a lot of things, get a chance to know myself a bit more, so I don’t regret anything.

MORE UFC 298: Dom Cruz Breaks Down Main Event | MMA Coaches React | Merab Ahead | Co-Main Preview

“With that being said, I want it all. I’m either going to get the world title or that’s it for me. I’m not here to be a fighter, to sign posters, to be cool. I’m here to take what’s mine.”

The loss lit a fire under Cejudo, who got right back into the gym to prepare for the next biggest challenge the UFC could offer him. That challenge: Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 298: Volkanovski vs Topuria on February 17. The number two ranked bantamweight contender won each of his last nine fights and is coming off a record-breaking performance against Petr Yan in which he attempted 49 takedowns.

“I don’t necessarily think they’ve gotten it wrong, I think they’ve just underestimated his threshold, his conditioning,” Cejudo said describing Dvalishvili’s previous opponents. “That’s where Merab’s gift is. But it’s the same reason why he doesn’t knock people out. He knows his threshold, he has a certain pace.

UFC 298 Full Fight Card Preview

“I personally like this fight because stylistically we’re both wrestlers, we both come from that background. He’s going to be defending me, I’m going to be defending him. People are accustomed to Merab just taking people down and holding them down. It can be boring, besides his fight with Petr. I mean, you talk about [how] he ripped into him, that’s what people are expecting, and that’s what I’m expecting, too. That same guy.”

Demetrious Johnson kicks Henry Cejudo in their flyweight championship bout during the UFC 197 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Demetrious Johnson kicks Henry Cejudo in their flyweight championship bout during the UFC 197 event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

In preparation for Dvalishvili, Cejudo brought in new coaches but cut down the size of his team to have a more intimate training camp. Rather than being pushed in numerous directions, Cejudo believes a smaller team helped him identify a specific focus and build the best gameplan to get past Dvalishvili.

UFC 298 Embedded

“I think you always just have to make adjustments as a fighter,” Cejudo said. “It’s nothing personal with anybody because everybody’s good. You just gotta really narrow down. What is it that you’re more likely going to use? It’s hard to have two people playing the same role. I think the more intimate you can keep your team, the better.”

On episode three of UFC 298 Embedded, Cejudo signed posters across from featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who is putting his title on the line in this weekend’s main event against Ilia Topuria. Even though Cejudo may have to fight Volkanovski in the future if all goes to plan for “Triple C” in 2024, they agreed to a temporary truce while they have their separate goals to accomplish at UFC 298.

RELATED: Merab Dvalishvili vs Henry Cejudo Preview 

For the time being, Cejudo isn’t looking that far down the road. If he defeats Dvalishvili this weekend, Cejudo has his eyes set on the winner of UFC 299’s main event between 135-pound champion Sean O’Malley and Marlon Vera.

“I will go down as the greatest combat sports athlete of all time,” Cejudo said. “I’m not just cherry picking. I fought the consensus number one guy in the world in Aljamain. Now I’m going against the number[two] contender in the world. There’s no easy short cuts for me. I think doing that, getting the belt over whoever wins out of Sean and what’s his name, like dude, that’s concrete, man.”

Order UFC 298: Volkanovski vs Topuria

UFC 298: Volkanovski vs Topuria took place live from Honda Center in Anaheim, California on February 17, 2024. See the final Prelim & Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!