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Henry Cejudo’s manager believes ‘100 percent’ he will return in 2022, reveals what it will take for Alexander Volkanovski fight to happen

Henry Cejudo had barely retired before he was already discussing a potential comeback but now it appears he’s closer than ever to making his return to action.

As a former two-division UFC champion, Cejudo has long desired the opportunity to add a third title to his resume while targeting a showdown against reigning featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski.

According to his longtime manager Ali Abdelaziz, there’s no doubt Cejudo is interested in returning but there are certain conditions that would have to be met in order to grant him an immediate title shot at 145 pounds.

“Listen, Dana White is one of the greatest promoters of all-time. Maybe he is the greatest and he understands big fights and he understands outcomes,” Abdelaziz explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “If Henry wants to do it and he’s telling me he wants to do it, and he’s willing to defend the title after he beats Alexander, right? Dana White will make this happen.

“But remember, if I don’t think Henry will defend the title, I will not be involved because I have a long history with Dana and I’m never going to lie to him and I’m never going to lie. Henry’s an honorable guy. He would never lie. But I think right now, everybody needs to make up their mind what they want to do. I have to talk to the UFC to Dana, to Sean [Shelby], to Hunter [Campbell] and everyone at the office and sit down with Henry face-to-face to see if this is what they’ll really do.”

Of course, the UFC has faced a similar issue in the past after Georges St-Pierre came back from a four-year long hiatus and became middleweight champion with a third-round submission win over Michael Bisping.

Prior to the fight, St-Pierre had promised that he would stay to defend the title but after he fell ill following an intense training camp that required him to pack on a lot of weight to compete at 185 pounds, he ultimately decided to relinquish the belt.

Just over a year later, St-Pierre announced his retirement from the sport of mixed martial arts.

It’s no secret that Cejudo wants to become the first fighter in history to hold titles in three different weight classes after he already conquered flyweight and bantamweight but the possibility that he might beat Volkanovski and then just retire again has to be a concern for the UFC.

That’s why Abdelaziz says he won’t even get involved in negotiations unless Cejudo is absolutely committed to moving forward after a featherweight title fight so the UFC won’t be thrown into upheaval again with a champion abdicating the throne.

“I understand the UFC title is the most coveted title in all of sports. It’s a big title,” Abdelaziz said. “You can’t just win a title and bounce, especially if you promise you’re going to defend it. I can guarantee this, if I know one-percent that Henry will bounce, I will not be involved in it. Because, it’s important to keep my word as a man, to anybody, not just to Dana or to Sean or to anybody in the UFC. As a man, I would like to know I’m the one who kept his word at all costs. I think Henry is this guy, too. He’s an honorable guy, he’s always going to keep his word.

“If Henry is serious and I know he is, he’s going to come to Vegas, sit down with everyone in Vegas and we can figure it out.”

If Cejudo returns and jumps the line at featherweight, that will undoubtedly upset some of the other top fighters competing at 145 pounds but Abdelaziz believes that just creates even more opportunity for the division.

“Of course Max [Holloway] deserves [the title shot], too but I think timing will be great because Henry can fight in February and Max can fight the winner,” Abdelaziz said. “But also it’s a huge gap in the division. You have Alexander, you have Max and it’s a huge gap and you have someone like Giga [Chikadze], who has a seven-fight winning streak. Giga has a fight. I think it’s the perfect time for Henry to come in and see what he can do in the division. If he wins, he can fight Max and after that he can fight Giga. In reality, it’s a really great fight. It’s a really big fight.

“Henry did a great job keeping himself relevant in the sport. He hasn’t fought for a long time. I’m very sure Dana will go for it if everyone is serious and everyone will honor what we can do. It’s a very intriguing fight and I respect the champ very much, especially after the last fight. How can you not respect this guy? But stylistically, it’s a great matchup. I like to favor Henry for this fight but it’s not going to be an easy fight. It can be a reality if everyone buttons up and says let’s do this.”

For all the ways Cejudo has been teasing a comeback, his manager truly feels like the countdown has started to when he will actually declare his intention to fight again.

“Yes, I do,” Abdelaziz answered when asked if he believed Cejudo will fight in 2022. “100-percent I do. I think he does.

“If he lost, he can go down to 135. He’s not coming in for one fight. He’s coming in for a legacy fight to get three belts but at the end of the day, too, there’s a lot of fights at 135 and 145, too, it’s no problem. He’s a competitor. As long as he’s breathing, this guy’s going to be a competitor.”