Henry Cejudo came up just a little short on Saturday night at UFC 288, losing his bantamweight title comeback fight against Aljamain Sterling via split decision.
The judges’ scores were extremely tight. “Triple C” would taste defeat by a margin of one point on one scorecard. No matter how near he came to tasting championship gold yet again, the loss derails all his plans. Following the fight, Cejudo took off his gloves in the cage and it looked like he might retire. When speaking to Joe Rogan, he certainly implied he might.
“It sucks, I hate losing, but it’s also been three years and uh, I just don’t know where to take it from here,” a somber Cejudo said. “I’m a little confused right now. Whether I continue. If I’m not first, it’s like Ricky Bobby [from Talladega Nights], if I’m not first, I’m last. If I can’t beat Aljo, my biggest goal was to go up to 145 pounds. If I can’t get the victory against him, I don’t know where that puts me.”
Asked if he could return to flyweight, Cejudo said “Nah, nah, hell no. I may be short, but look at the bulk. I’m a pretty bulky human.”
Cejudo left his retirement an open question.
“I think we go back and think about it,” he finished. “Like I said, if I’m not first, I’m last. I gotta talk to Dana, I gotta talk to my wife. And who knows, this might be the last time you see me in the octagon.”
During the UFC 288 post-fight press conference, Cejudo noted the time fighting took away from his family life.
“Just cutting weight, not holding [my daughter], kind of neglecting her, having my training partners play with her, that’s the stuff that means a lot to me,” he said. “A lot of you guys don’t give a f—k, but the time with my kid means the world to me, especially the fact that I have another one on the way.”
It’s not all negative, though. After 125 pound champion Brandon Moreno called out Cejudo at 135 pounds, “Triple C” sounded interested.
“I guess we’ll talk about it,” he said. “I mean, money talks if the UFC wants to put it together, and there’s a nice little budget in for both of us. I ain’t doing it in Mexico, though, hell no. We can do it here in America or something like that. But I’m not opposed to any of it.”
Cejudo retired three years ago as a double champion after defending both belts. At the time there was ample evidence to suggest pay was a large factor in his decision to walk away. UFC president Dana White had no interest in giving “Triple C” a large salary increase then, and it’s an open question as to whether he’d do it now. When White talked about Henry’s possible return to retirement at the post-fight press conference, money didn’t come up.
“There’s only been a couple of guys I’ve tried to talk out of retiring at the time that they did,” White said. “It was DC and Khabib. Henry’s been off for three years. He looked great tonight against a guy, who is much bigger and much stronger. It’s up to him, whatever he wants.
“I mean, I don’t think he should have retired the first time, but if he decides to retire a second time, I probably wouldn’t argue with him.”
This story originally appeared on MMA Mania