Henry ‘Triple C’ Cejudo has been removed from the official UFC rankings, this Sunday evening – with Francis Ngannou entering the pound-for-pound rankings, in his place. Following his co-main event with Dominick Cruz on May 9th. – where he successfully lodged the first, and seemingly final defence of his 135-pound throne, the Californian shockingly announced his decision to retire from mixed martial arts, with immediate effect.
Cejudo vacated the flyweight championship late last year – in order to focus on a bantamweight title defence against former featherweight gold-holder, José Aldo. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented the Brazilian from entering the United States after he failed to obtain a valid VISA. Former two-time champion, Cruz – subsequently replaced Aldo, losing via a late second-round knockout to Olympic gold medalist, Cejudo.
There seems to have been conflicting opinions on Cejudo’s decision to walk away from the sport, from inside his own camp. The 33-year-old’s head coach, Eric Albarracin echoed Cejudo’s sentiment – explaining how he believed his bolt from the blue retirement, was in fact, permanent. Dominance MMA leader, Ali Abdelaziz – the manager of Cejudo, recently gave his take on the retirement plan, revealing how he believed Cejudo would feature in the Octagon before the end of this summer, instead.
As of writing, it’s unknown if the Phoenix-based wrestler has withdrawn from the USADA testing pool. If that’s the case – according to Article 5.7.3, “athletes wanting to come out of retirement must enrol in the UFC RTP and make themselves available for testing for a period of at least six (6) months before returning to competition. To re-enrol in the UFC RTP, an athlete must send a return-from retirement statement through courier, fax, or email to the UFC.” If Cejudo does formally retire – he must go through the above protocol before returning to active competition.
If the bantamweight championship is in fact, officially vacant – it seems promotional perfect contender, Petr Yan will be inline to compete for spoils, according to UFC head-honcho, Dana White. In terms of potential opponents for the Russian, he was originally scheduled to meet with one-time title challenger, ‘Magic’ Marlon Moraes at a UFC Fight Night Kazakhstan event, until the event was shelved. Fellow perennial contenders, Aljamain Sterling, and Cory Sandhagen are also expected to meet at UFC 250 on June 6th. – in a pairing which almost guarantees championship implications.