Henry Cejudo left his mark on ESPN+ viewers in more than one way tonight at UFC 249. First of all, he stopped the legendary Dominick Cruz in the second round of their bantamweight title clash. But then, totally unexpectedly, he retired from the sport of MMA, saying that he was happy with his career.
Cejudo came into this fight on a four-fight win streak, including wins over Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, and Marlon Moraes. Meanwhile, it was four years since Cruz even stepped into an octagon. His last runout was when he lost his title to Cody Garbrandt. Before tonight, he had never been stopped by strikes.
Love him or hate him, Cejudo is an excellent fighter. He put on a great performance tonight against a tough opponent. But is he really retired? Or does he wants a nice big fat contract from the UFC? Only time will tell, but the sport will miss the King of Cringe.
Henry Cejudo finishes Dominick Cruz in the second round and retires on top.
— WhatsUpMMA (@WhatsUp_MMA) May 10, 2020
This fight only lasted for two rounds but it was compelling. Cejudo had trained for a linear striker in Jose Aldo, so Cruz’s movement was a massive change. But it didn’t matter because ‘Triple C’ lit up Cruz’s leg with kicks. They were vicious and prevented Cruz from letting off any meaningful offense in round one.
However, in the second, Cruz appeared to settle down at about the halfway mark. Both men had their moments, landing punches, but Cruz was starting to make good use of his reach advantage. At least until he got kneed in the head and went down. Cejudo swarmed him with ground-and-pound until referee Keith Peterson stopped the fight.
Cruz was furious with the stoppage because after taking the initial barrage he was trying to get back to his feet. Later, he even claimed that he smelt alcohol and cigarettes on Peterson’s breath. Whether or not that is true, you could argue that it was actually a late stoppage because he’d taken about ten unanswered hammer-fists.
— ufcespanol (@UFCEspanol) May 10, 2020
Then Cejudo went full Andre Ward and retired in his prime. His resumé is as good as any other fighter’s. After Daniel Cormier, he became the second man to defend two UFC titles. Is this just a ploy to make more money? Only time will tell.
“I’m happy with my career. I’ve done enough for the sport, I want to walk away, I want to enjoy myself,” Cejudo told Joe Rogan in his Octagon interview. “I’m 33 years old, I have a girl now. I eventually want to start a family. Since I was 11 years old, I sacrificed my whole life to get where I’m at today. I’m not gonna let nobody take that from me.”
“So, I’m retiring tonight, Joe,” he said. “I’m 33 years old, I’m happy with my career. Again, Uncle Dana, I want to say thank you for everything. You’re the man. Everybody, thank you so much. Triple C’s out. You guys don’t have to hear my ass no more.”
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 10, 2020
Dominick Cruz raged about the decision after the fight. He was visibly distraught and furious. However, to be fair, it was a reasonable decision. But the consequences of the stoppage are huge. At 35, with all of the injuries he has suffered, how much does he really have left in the tank?
This may be his last chance at getting the belt back. With young guns like Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling waiting for their title shot, the road back to the top is a tough one. There’s no doubt that he’s the best bantamweight of all-time, but his time may be up now.