The man known as “Triple C” was telling the media all week that he wanted to prove he was the best inside the octagon. That is why he chose someone considered the best bantamweight in UFC history. Inside an empty arena at UFC 249, Cejudo did exactly what he said he would do.
Cejudo (16-2) successfully defended his UFC Bantamweight Title against Dominick Cruz. Right before the second round ended, Cejudo hit a number of kicks and punches that forced the referee to call the fight off. Following the fight, he retired in the middle of the octagon.
“I’m happy with my career. I’ve done enough in the sport, I want to walk away, I want to enjoy myself,” Cejudo stated. “I’m 33 years old, I gave my girl back home. 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.
— UFC (@ufc) May 10, 2020
Cejudo came into the bout a true favorite, considering Cruz (22-3) was returning to the octagon for the first time since 2016. While the latter had the reach and height advantage, that didn’t stop Cejudo, who managed to keep Cruz on his toes throughout the bout.
Starting the fight with a leg kick, Cejudo continued to utilize kicks to distract Cruz. It was a move that many tried but failed to take advantage of when facing the former two-time champion. Chopping the legs, Cejudo stayed at that while also managing to land shots to the body and face. The announcers made it a point that Cejudo was preparing for Jose Aldo this entire time, so the transition may have been a difficult one. It turns out that Cejudo didn’t have any trouble.
In the second, Cejudo continued to attack the legs of Cruz. Cruz was able to hit huge rights and combination shots. Both had a small back and forth affair until a clash of heads cut the head of Cejudo. After a small break, Cejudo landed a knee to the face of Cruz, knocking him down to the floor. He then hit a plethora of punches and the referee called the fight off after a few seconds. Cruz called it questionable, but Cejudo did land clean shots.
THAT'S IT! MESSAGE SENT!
— UFC (@ufc) May 10, 2020
It is unknown if Cejudo will actually stay retired or just wait for a larger money offer by the UFC. He has been stating for months he would leave if he wasn’t offered the amount he thought he was worth. When it comes to his legacy, Cejudo does believe he gave everything he had to competing.
“Man, I love freedom,” Cejudo said at the post-fight press conference, via MMA Fighting. “You saw me at a lot of UFC events. I enjoy that stuff. Since I was 11 years old, I probably have about 600 competitions of wrestling matches in my life. That’s all I’ve ever done. I don’t have kids – finally got a girl now. But I want to step into that new chapter of my life. I’ve been extremely selfish, rightfully so, to obtain what I’ve obtained.
“I want to leave on top. I did it in wrestling, and now I want to do it in the sport of MMA. I want to remain king forever.”
The former UFC Flyweight Champion and Olympic medalist has now left the division open for contenders in Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. As for Cruz, he may look into the loss. On a two-fight losing streak, it is unknown who he would face next.