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Henry Cejudo sets sights on Alexander Volkanovski title fight: ‘I know that I can still beat him’

Henry Cejudo wants to reclaim his bantamweight title
Henry Cejudo
Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Henry Cejudo wants nothing less than to make history one more time.

Following featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski’s triumph over “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC 273 on Saturday, Cejudo’s manager Ali Abdelaziz announced that Cejudo is re-entering the USADA testing pool with the goal of returning to competition.

Cejudo, a former champion at bantamweight and flyweight, confirmed the news Monday along with a link to an interview with The Schmo in which he expressed his confidence in being able to capture another title at 145 pounds.

“Like I said, if I could fight for Zombie I know it would be a different fight,” Cejudo said. “I know if I can fight Alexander Volkanovski, I know that I can still beat him. It’s not about me killing him, it’s just about me beating him. Outsmarting him, outwitting him. I still believe that I do have the ability, the speed, the wrestling, the IQ, the experience, the toughness, the grit to really challenge a man like that.

“But it’s up to you fans. It’s up to Dana White. I’m all about it, they know I’m about it, I’ve said it before if me and Alexander can make a payday off of this I could become the first triple champ or he could shut up the cringe. It’ll be a treat for everybody. I know everybody will tune in to watch. So what’s up, Dana?”

Cejudo last fought at UFC 249 in May 2020, where he successfully defended the bantamweight title against legend Dominick Cruz. He announced his retirement immediately after, seemingly putting the cap on a combat sports career that included two UFC titles and an Olympic gold medal in wrestling.

Even in retirement, Cejudo has kept his name in the conversation with an active presence on social media and in interviews, and as a coach with the Fight Ready team. He told The Schmo that he would also be interested in fighting T.J. Dillashaw — the man he defended the flyweight title against in January 2019 — if Dillashaw takes the bantamweight title from Aljamain Sterling.

However, Volkanovski remains a priority.

“I know I could beat those dudes, I really do,” Cejudo said. “This isn’t for me to prove it to myself, this is for me to — it sounds weird, but it’s for me to prove it to the world because I know what I’m capable of and typically it’s the other way around, but I mean that. Because I would be a big underdog [against Volkanovski], especially the way what he’s doing with certain fighters that are legit and high level.

“I’m not afraid of this dude. I’ve been the underdog so many times that this dude would just be my greatest victory in mixed martial arts because I know that I can beat him.”

Cejudo said that he considers Volkanovski to be No. 2 in the pound-for-pound rankings, behind Kamaru Usman, giving him the edge over fighters like Israel Adesanya and Francis Ngannou because Volkanovski has yet to be defeated inside the octagon.

He also agreed that Volkanovski may have surpassed Max Holloway and Jose Aldo for the title of greatest featherweight of all time, though he still sees a path to victory should they be matched up.

“He’s proven that,” Cejudo said. “I would always kind of go Aldo but he’s beaten Aldo, he’s beaten Holloway twice, he’s beaten The Korean Zombie, he’s beaten [Brian] Ortega. He might be the best or he might be a win away from being better than all of them.”

“I will say this, Alexander Volkanovski he is good,” Cejudo added. “You guys do not get me wrong. I just see those pieces to the puzzle that people are not talking about. It’s kind of what I said earlier, a few days ago, what I said about Sterling. I said don’t sleep on Sterling. If Sterling’s entries could get better he’s gonna be able to take this dude down and make him fight his B-side and that’s exactly what happened. So it all comes down to tactics.”