Henry Cejudo took that Free Nick Diaz hashtag and put his money where his mouth is. The former Olympic wrestling gold medalist and current UFC fighter has said that he will not fight in Las Vegas if Diaz is still under suspension by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Cejudo is changing his tune a little bit now, he said after beating Jussier Formiga by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Gastelum vs. Magny on Saturday in Monterrey, Mexico. There has been some movement in the Diaz case and his legal team is in settlement talks with the NAC. Sources told MMAFighting.com last month that Diaz, suspended and fined $165,000 in September for a third failed test for marijuana, could fight as early as summer 2016.
"I think there's due process going on," Cejudo said. "So as soon as that gets overturned, we can talk. I mean, obviously I'm not my own boss. I'd have to sit down and talk to everybody from the UFC and decide what we're gonna do. [As long as] Nick Diaz is freed, I'll fight in Vegas."
Cejudo (10-0) didn't completely walk through Formiga. It wasn't a fully dominant performance, though he clearly won every round. Formiga hung in and had moments. However, Cejudo has an undefeated record and has beaten three UFC contenders in a row. The Mexican American fighter has to be on the short list of No. 1 contenders, if not at the top of it.
Joseph Benavidez has won four in a row and has a more impressive overall resume than Cejudo. But he already has two losses against champion Demetrious Johnson, including a first-round knockout defeat most recently in December 2013.
Cejudo, 28, has topped Chris Cariaso, Chico Camus and now Formiga in succession. Johnson was in the front row Saturday night in Monterrey. The dominant champ was grinning ear to ear during the bout between Cejudo and Formiga.
Johnson has expressed interest in fighting sometime in early 2016, perhaps on Super Bowl weekend. That card, as it usually is annually, will be held in Las Vegas. That could make for a tough decision for Cejudo, who firmly believes he should be facing Johnson sooner rather than later.
"I believe Demetrious Johnson, he's fought the top contenders at flyweight," Cejudo said. "I'm an Olympic wrestler, high-caliber wrestler. I have good defense. I'm 10-0 and thus far, 4-0 in the UFC. And I've fought four times in about 10 months, I believe. I believe I'm next in line. It's up to the UFC, but I'll fight whomever, whenever. Minus maybe Vegas."