Not many individuals boast combat sports accolades as impressive as Cejudo. As well as being an Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling, a feat he achieved in Beijing in 2008, “Triple C” is a former two-division UFC champion, having held gold at both flyweight and bantamweight. No other fighter has won an Olympic gold medal and a UFC title.
But despite becoming only the second fighter to defend titles in two weight classes and defeating the likes of TJ Dillashaw, Dominick Cruz, and Demetrious Johnson, Cejudo is rarely talked about in the conversation for the greatest of all time and certainly isn’t looked at the same as many other former champs by a portion of the fanbase.
That sentiment was on display recently when the Californian’s intention to return from retirement to challenge Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title was laughed off by many, including UFC President Dana White.
Thompson Believes ‘Size Matters’
Having initially called out the 145-pound king last year in the hope of becoming the first three-division champ in UFC history, Cejudo had another crack at booking the matchup in recent days when Max Holloway withdrew from his scheduled trilogy clash with Volkanovski.
“The Messenger” was met with a claim that it wouldn’t make sense and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung was granted the shot instead.
In response, Cejudo pointed out that the great Georges St-Pierre was granted the luxury of returning from a long layoff to move up to a new division and challenge for another title. ‘What’s the difference?’ Cejudo exclaimed. According to two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, it’s size.
During a recent episode of his YouTube podcast, the #7-ranked 170lber suggested size matters when it comes to being a global draw and attraction, and being a fighter who’s in a position to make demands.
“It’s the size. It’s the size that matters,” Thompson said. “Like, guys look at these 125ers, 135ers, and, no beef, probably a lot of these guys can beat me, but what I’m saying is, they (fans) don’t look at these guys… everybody knows the heavyweights, everyone looks at Francis Ngannou, but when they look at the smaller guys they’re just not appealing.
“It’s like in Japan. The bigger, the more dramatic, the better,” added Thompson. “And when you look at the 135ers, they’re just not big and dramatic. You can try to be dramatic, but people aren’t gonna take you serious, like Cejudo, it comes off super cringe when you got somebody doing that. But you get somebody around 170 and up, especially at heavyweight, (it’s different)… That’s why in Japan there was only one weight class, that was it, heavyweight. When you fought K1, it was all heavyweight. It’s big, dramatic, flares, you know; people wanna see that.”
While it’s seemingly unlikely we’ll see Cejudo challenging for featherweight gold in his first fight back, all signs point towards the 34-year-old targeting a return to the Octagon in 2022.
If he can make a successful comeback and perhaps regain the bantamweight title he vacated in 2020, perhaps a super fight against whoever sits on the 145-pound throne at that time will be possible.
Do you agree with Stephen Thompson? Is Henry Cejudo not a bigger draw because of his size?