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Morning Report: Henry Cejudo questions new deals for Israel Adesanya and Jorge Masvidal: ‘How come they ain’t paying me?’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Henry Cejudo is not sure why other, less successful fighters than himself, are getting paid while the UFC has repeatedly refused to pony up for him.

Cejudo, who was the UFC flyweight and bantamweight champion, retired from MMA in 2020 after successfully defending his 135-pound title against Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, saying at the time that Dana White “knows the number” to entice him to continue on with his MMA career. Since then, Cejudo has consistently teased a possible return to the sport, with most of his focus settling on a featherweight title shot against Alexander Volkanovski, but his constant efforts have done little to move the needle for the UFC. Even earlier this year, after Max Holloway was forced out of his title fight with Volkanovski and Cejudo offered to step in as a replacement, White was unmoved by the former champion’s attempt. And so, as Cejudo has watched other fighters like Israel Adesanya and Jorge Masvidal sign lucrative new deals with the UFC ahead of pay-per-views they are headlining, the Olympic gold medalist is left wondering why doesn’t get the same treatment.

“Money talks, bulls*** walks, and I’m not walking, I’m not signing up to USADA until I really get what I deserve,” Cejudo told The Underground. “They’re gonna give Israel Adesanya, who doesn’t know how to do a damn moonwalk, can’t win a second belt, can’t defend a takedown to save his life, or Jorge Masvidal, he’s got 17 losses in his career, and they can’t give the ‘Triple C’ some of that cash? If you really think about it, it’s almost like, why do I do this? If the UFC’s just gonna handpick people to decide to pay, because notice what they’re doing now: a week before the fight, they’re starting to give this big payday to those guys because they want to keep the one-percenters happy so nobody else talks s***. I am those one-percenters, so how come they ain’t paying me?

“I would beat up Petr Yan, I would beat up Alexander The Average, and I’ve proven it, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. If they’re willing to pay me, I’ll let go of coaching, I’ll let go of a lot of this stuff to come back and make that money and strap on that second belt, plain and simple.”

But for all his efforts, the UFC has remained decidedly uninterested in meeting Cejudo’s demands. Dana White has said that if Cejudo wants to return, the door is open but he’s not going to get a featherweight title shot immediately, which has in turn led Cejudo to widening his range of possible opponents by adding another name: Max Holloway.

“The two fights that come to mind if I do end up coming back is give me Max Holloway,” Cejudo said. “If they’re not gonna give me Alexander the average for a belt, give me Holloway. If they want me to fight somebody to get into a title fight, give me Holloway. I know I could beat him and then I get Alexander the average, but I want to get compensated for that.”

But at this point it seems exceedingly unlikely that Cejudo is going to get his wishes. Holloway is waiting for a shot at the winner of next month’s featherweight title fight between Volkanovski and The Korean Zombie, making him unavailable for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Cejudo has been retired for nearly two years and the UFC does not seem inclined to budge anytime soon, meaning “Triple C” may never get the chance to become “C4”.

“Of course they know [the number to get me back],” Cejudo said. “But you know, this what they do best man: low ball. So it is what it is, and the cool thing about it though is I’m not mad at Dana. If he doesn’t feel like I’m worth that, then it’s all good. I have an incredible career that nobody will ever touch.”


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