Former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo has yet to book a fight since announcing he’s coming out of retirement by re-entering the USADA testing pool. One former foe believes he can make history one more time.
Ex-flyweight king Demetrious Johnson, one of the greatest-ever fighters in the sport and the only man to stop Cejudo in MMA, said the Olympic gold medalist “absolutely” has what it takes to dethrone either Aljamain Sterling or Alexander Volkanovski, respectively the current UFC champions at bantamweight and featherweight.
“He’s intelligent, he’s an athlete – I mean, he’s done something I haven’t done,” Johnson said of Cejudo in an interview with MMA Fighting. “You know, he’s won the world championship at flyweight and bantamweight, and he’s defended the flyweight title and the bantamweight title, right?
“Typically guys when they do that, Conor [McGregor] has done it, but he never defended any of those belts. He’s won it, then [won] one after, and then he got lost, right? That’s one thing I think Henry Cejudo has that people should show respect to the man. I respect him.”
“Mighty Mouse” twice fought Cejudo in the UFC, first winning by first-round knockout in 2016 and then dropping a close split decision a couple of years later. Johnson then parted ways with the UFC to join ONE Championship and is currently slated to rematch Adriano Moraes for the flyweight belt on Aug. 26 in Singapore.
Johnson owns a house in Arizona and will train with Cejudo for two weeks ahead of ONE 161.
As for Cejudo’s chances against Sterling, who recently defended his 125-pound title against Petr Yan, Johnson believes the ex-champ’s chances are better in a hypothetical match-up with Volkanovski. But he adds Cejudo would require a more strict diet to make 135 pounds.
“If he was to fight Aljamain Sterling, I think he poses a lot of problems to Aljamain Sterling because, one, his wrestling is legit, his hands are legit, and Henry Cejudo, he’s a gamer,” Johnson said. “Like, he’ll go out there and he’s gonna push the pace and try to win the fight. Obviously, right now Henry Cejudo’s got that dad bod, so he’s gonna have to shred all that baby weight, and I’m sure he can do it. It’s all about does the athlete want to do it, in my opinion.
“I think [fighting for the featherweight title] is gonna be a harder thing to do because Volkanovski is, I think, the bigger guy, and Volkanovski has been more active. And I think the weight discrepancy is going to be there for Volkanovski, right? Do I think Henry Cejudo has the talent and skillset and the mindset to beat Volkanovski? Absolutely, it’s a fight, but Volkanovski has been active, he’s been fighting killers. He’s fought Max Holloway two times.”
Volkanovski is riding an incredible 21-fight winning streak that includes victims like Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Brian Ortega and “The Korean Zombie” – a flawless 11-fight run under the UFC banner since 2016.
“And Volkanovski is very good about sticking to the gameplan and executing the gameplan, right?” Johnson said. “That’s one of the things I’ve noticed about him. When he’s fought Chad Mendes, and he’s fought the guys in the past, you saw the grit, you saw the tough, you saw the rugby, you saw the athlete come out in it. But now, when you see him fight, when he fought Max Holloway both times and when he fought Brian Ortega and when he just fought ‘Korean Zombie,’ you saw an athlete also become a martial artist and also sticking to executing a perfect gameplan.
“So, that’s the biggest thing I think that Henry Cejudo is going to have to battle. He’s going to gave to battle pretty much an identical version of him, in my opinion.”