Cejudo, who scheduled to face Sergio Pettis in a flyweight bout on the main card in Dallas, withdrew with a hand injury that he suffered a couple of weeks earlier in training. The bout was replaced with the David Branch-Krzysztof Jotko bout.
On Monday, the Olympic gold medalist explained what exactly happened while making a guest appearance on The MMA Hour.
“What happened was, I had thought about just getting a cortisone shot on the area where it was hurting and I went to go see the doctor,” he said. “I had hurt my hand two weeks [before], I had hit the top of one of my training partner’s head. And it just completely hurt my hand, all those eight metacarpal bones that are kind of in that area, just blew everything out. It got to the point where I was having a hard time opening doors or driving, you know little things like that. But I thought at the same time that my hand was getting better. I did PRP on it, I was doing rehab. I was putting it on ice. I thought it was getting better.”
Cejudo said that the pain in his hand was subsiding enough initially to make him believe he could go through with the bout. But once in Dallas, he realized it simply wasn’t.
“I was like, alright, by the time fight time comes, we just have to hopefully kind of let the adrenaline takes over,” he said. “Well, Monday night I wrap my hands professionally, just being cautious, and just started hitting pads and I just couldn’t throw the hand no more. It was probably the first or second punch I threw, I just knew it wasn’t 100 percent no more. I knew it was messed up and hurt because I would jog with my wraps on and I could feel my hand kind of separate from my wrist. I just kept hearing a bunch of little…just kind of the separation of little cracks in my joint, especially in my right hand. I just knew it wasn’t right.”
The 30-year-old Cejudo, who last fought against Joseph Benavidez at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale in December — in which he came out on the short end of a split decision — said he was hoping to rely on his strengths in his battle with Pettis, but knew he would still be majorly limited.
“I was planning on using my wrestling and obviously boxing, but if I can’t throw my right hand — even if I take somebody down — what damage am I going to do on top?
“I was going to say let’s man up, let’s do it, and just fight. It just got to the point where when I woke up the next day, I was opening the toothpaste cap, and even that was hurting my hand. And I’m just like, man, if it opens to open the toothpaste bottle. And finally I said, you know what, let’s just get a cortisone shot, man, let’s just get this over with.”
Cejudo said that the doctor did a second X-ray to determine the extent of the damage, and it was then that he realized he would be gambling with his career.
“And that’s when he showed me the separation of my hand, how I really jammed my bones pretty hard,” he said. “I don’t even know the whole terminology thing, but the doctor’s the one that said, you can fight, you may not feel anything, but I think if you fight and you hit hard a couple of times, your hand might can be permanently damaged, and you might need surgery after a fight like that.”
Cejudo said that he would have an MRI in the next couple of days, and he would know more about the timetable for recovery. He did speculate that he could be out six to eight weeks, given what he knows of the injury, but that he would love to return for UFC 214 on July 29. Once back, he said he hopes the UFC will consider booking him once more against Pettis, as he was excited for that match-up.
“I just knew it was such a good card that I wanted to fight, and I knew Sergio Pettis is just a good match-up for me,” he said. “I had some new tricks under my sleeve. I worked with Cael Sanderson, working on my grind positions and top control. So just adding a lot of tools to my arsenal and I wanted to demonstrate that to these people.”
As for the speculation that his cancellation had more to do with another bad weight cut than the hand injury, Cejudo said that wasn’t the case.
“Everything was good,” he said. “I’d never had such a good camp, and my weight was good. I showed up to the UFC 10 pounds over, waking up at 133. Stuff that I normally don’t even get down to. I think my body’s just used to making weight, but when your hand, when it hurts to open up a doorknob and things like that...you know, the doctors just said, hey man, this is the deal — you can fight, you can do it, but just think of the aftermath. He was like, if you were my kid I’d tell you not to, but I know you’re a competitor.”