What’s Henry Cejudo’s Plan? Petr Yan Says ‘He’s Playing A Game’
Henry Cejudo, the UFC bantamweight champion and self proclaimed ‘King of Cringe’, is back and he’s hunting legends. First up is former 135lbs kingpin, Dominick Cruz. Their championship bout will serve as the co-main event at the newly set UFC 249.
Cruz stepped in for Jose Aldo, who is coming off two losses, after the Brazilian faced coronavirus related travel restrictions. UFC 249 goes down on May 9th in Florida in a yet to be disclosed venue. Oh and Dominick hasn’t fought since 2016.
If you’re wondering why a man coming off two losses and another who hasn’t competed in years can a get a title shot shot, well, know that you’re not alone. The number three ranked UFC bantamweight Petr Yan has similar questions.
“To be honest, moments like this in UFC kind of upset me. [Dominick Cruz] didn’t fight for three years and now he’s getting a title shot? It kind of upsets me and it’s a big hit for UFC reputation, in my opinion,” Yan told MMA Fighting.
Yan is 6-0 in the UFC. His last outing saw him brutally finish Urijah Faber at UFC 245. ‘No Mercy’ has regularly criticised Cejudo for avoiding the division’s top contenders and instead opting out to fight big names who have seen better days.
“Maybe it’s because I’m not in America that I wasn’t granted this title shot, or maybe it’s because I’m not American they didn’t give me this opportunity. Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of me and they don’t want to give the chance to win another title to a Russian fighter, maybe they don’t want two Russian champions,” Yan said.
“I don’t think that [the UFC’s] main goal, but to me it’s kind of unclear why they gave it to Cruz. I don’t think, in my opinion, he’s going to bring a lot of pay-per-views buys. I don’t know why, it’s kind of a difficult question for me. I think there are more active and deserving fighters that could fight for the belt and I don’t understand why they’d give it to a guy that’s been so inactive for so long.”
Cejudo has caught Yan’s eye for all the wrong reasons. But he also admits he has respect for the champion.
“I can’t say I lost respect for [Cejudo]. I know that he’s playing his game, he’s doing his part, but it’s weird that the UFC also agrees with him – that’s kind of weird.”
Cejudo’s manager Ali Abdelaziz however, has hit back at critics who have said that Cruz doesn’t deserve the next title shot. Speaking to MMA Junkie, the often outspoken manager laid out ‘Triple C’s’ plan.
“At the time we’re in, there’s no such thing as he deserves it or not. Listen, let’s be real: Aldo didn’t deserve this by the numbers and by the rankings, but what Aldo has done throughout his career, what Dominick Cruz has done throughout his career, what Frankie Edgar has done throughout his career, and if you want to take these legends, listen, if Henry wins … eight weeks later he said he wants to fight Aldo. If we can get Aldo, he’s gonna fight Aldo.”
In spite of the likes of Yan, Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen, all feeling that they deserve a shot at Cejudo, Abdelaziz insists that Aldo will get the next shot at the champion.
“Still, the next opponent is Jose Aldo. It’s none of these other guys. This is what he wants, and this is what’s a deal. He told the UFC, but I know Aldo has some travel issues or some visa issues, I don’t know. But also, how are you gonna say no to Aldo? This guy is one of the best lighter weights we’ve ever seen.”
So, let’s get one thing straight. Henry Cejudo can fight. The 5’4″, Olympic gold medalist can really fight. Is he ducking elite competition? Maybe. But he did win two belts in two divisions. He deserves respect. Right? I mean, even if the last time we saw him he was wearing a magician’s cape, while whipping a plastic snake.
Do you think Henry Cejudo is avoiding the likes of Petr Yan?