It’s either win or go home for Henry Cejudo on February 17.
The former two-division world champion returns to the Octagon at UFC 298 in Anaheim nine months removed from his split decision loss against then-bantamweight titleholder Aljamain Sterling. This time, ‘Triple C’ will square off with Sterling’s best friend and No. 2 ranked contender at 135, Merab Dvalishvili.
If Cejudo wins, he will likely face the winner of next month’s bantamweight title tilt between defending champ ‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley and Marlon ‘Chito’ Vera. But if he loses, it could bring an end to his iconic UFC career.
“This is for the No. 1 contender spot,” Cejudo said in an interview on The HJR Experiment. “I think after losing to Aljamain, I think if I was going to go maybe down the ladder, I would probably be done with fighting again. Yeah, man. Because it’s just like, this sport is hard, man. Training camps, having two kids and things like that. It’s all or nothing, man.”
Facing a do-or-die situation, Henry Cejudo is taking some extreme steps to give himself the best possible shot at snapping Dvalishvili’s nine-fight win streak. During the latest episode of UFC Countdown, ‘Triple C’ broke the news to his longtime coach — Eric Albarracin — that his services would not be needed for what could be the final fight camp of Cejudo’s career.
“You were with me for my last Olympic trials,” Cejudo told Albarracin. “You’ve been there for me, but as of right now… I just want to let you know for this camp, I’m getting rid of specific coaches. You included.”
“Sometimes you are too close to somebody and people just get too comfortable,” Cejudo added.
Throughout his illustrious run as a mixed martial arts coach, Albarracin has coached Bellator stars Patricio Pitbull and Patricky Pitbull, former UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo, one-time UFC title challenger Paulo Costa, and the recently retired ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung. All in all, he has coached 13 world champions.
Cejudo’s decision to relieve Albarracin of his duties ahead of UFC 298 earned mixed reactions from fight fans — some commending the Olympic gold medalist for doing whatever it takes to win while others disparaged his decision to break the news on camera.
“Great to see Cejudo’s willing to do whatever it takes.”
“Interesting move by Triple C.”
“Bringing a camera crew to have that conversation with someone is wild.”
“He’s going all in.”
“That had to be hard for Cejudo and of course, it’s gonna hurt Eric it’d be weird if it didn’t sting a little but they’re pros they know what they need.”
“Why is this idiot doing it on camera?”