UFC welterweight contender Ben Askren thinks two-weight champion Henry Cejudo has a solid case for being the greatest combat sports athlete of all time.
Already the flyweight champion following wins over Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw, Cejudo added the bantamweight title to his collection at UFC 238 earlier this month with his TKO win over Marlon Moraes. Given that he also has an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, Cejudo declared afterward that he was the greatest combat sports athlete of all time.
Many seem to be in agreement, while UFC president Dana White believes “The Messenger” has a bit more work to do if he wants to be regarded as the pound-for-pound best. However, Askren thinks Cejudo makes a very great argument for it:
“I think he makes a very great argument for it, absolutely,” Askren told MMA Fighting at UFC 239 media day. “Of all the combat sports, an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, I would say it’s the toughest to achieve. In boxing, Paulie Malignaggi hasn’t been a fighter for a while, but that being said, he was a world champion. And Artem Lobov…he’s very average in everything. So for him to be able to go and beat Paulie Malignaggi…
“I have seen old wrestlers who weren’t even world champion level go against young MMA guys and it’s just not competitive. So it honestly makes me think are boxers really that good at boxing or is there just a really, really, really small set of people who do it. No matter how big the pool is, somebody’s got to be the best. Maybe that’s what it is. Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder — they didn’t start boxing until almost 20 years old. That doesn’t happen in wrestling. If someone starts when they’re 13 and they have high levels of success, it’s very abnormal. Let alone 20. I don’t think that’s ever happened.”
Cejudo Or Cormier?
Another fighter and Olympian who can stake a claim for being the pound-for-pound best is Daniel Cormier. “DC” will defend his heavyweight title against former champion Stipe Miocic next in the main event of UFC 241 on August 27.
Another win over Miocic, regarded as the greatest heavyweight champion of all time, would certainly boost Cormier’s credentials further. However, like Askren, he does not have a gold medal which gives Cejudo a better case.
“I mean, he’s up there obviously,” Askren added when asked about Cormier. “I think Daniel would say the Olympic gold medal of all the combat things is probably the hardest to do. I think Daniel would admit that. Henry has that, Daniel and I do not. So I think that gives Henry a lot of room to talk.”