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(13-2) is the reigning
Ultimate Fighting Championship
flyweight champion. The 31
year-old claimed the title in his last bout, as he beat Demetrious
at UFC 227. In vanquishing the pound-for-pound great,
Cejudo avenged his prior 2016 defeat to Johnson at UFC 197. In his
first defense of his belt, Cejudo will face current UFC
bantamweight champion T.J.
. The superfight will appropriately be the UFC
Fight Night 143
headliner, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn,
New York, on Jan. 19.
As we approach the title fight, here are five things that you might
not know about the man they call “The Messenger.”
He is an Olympic gold medallist.
In 2008, the then 21-year-old Cejudo became the youngest gold
medallist in United States wrestling history. He achieved this
distinction in the freestyle 55-kilogram class. His other accolades
in the sport include three first place finishes at the Pan American
He used to be a bantamweight.
“The Messenger” entered mixed martial arts in 2013. Despite having
competed at 121 pounds during his successful wrestling career,
Cejudo initially decided to fight at bantamweight. After bypassing
the amateurs, he commenced his professional career with six wins on
the trot at bantamweight, before being signed by the UFC in 2014.
Following a failed weight cut for his proposed flyweight debut
at UFC, Cejudo was accused of not taking his mixed
martial arts career seriously. The promotion’s top brass reacted by
forcing Cejudo to move up to bantamweight for what transpired to be
a triumphant yet delayed debut versus Dustin
at UFC on Fox 13. Following the victory, Cejudo moved
down to flyweight where he has not missed weight since.
He loves boxing.
Cejudo has been a boxing fan from a young age. He took to training
in the sport in earnest after taking a sabbatical from wrestling
following the 2008 Olympics. His primary accomplishment in boxing
was becoming the Arizona Bronze Gloves Champion. While his base
remains wrestling, Cejudo has supplemented his fighting style with
strong, boxing-focused striking skills. As a result, five (38
percent) of his MMA wins have come via KO/TKO.
He is of Mexican descent.
Both of Cejudo’s parents were undocumented immigrants to the United
States from Mexico. As his father was largely absent, Cejudo’s
mother raised him and her seven other children on her own. Today,
he’s a proud American. Wrestling fans will remember Cejudo wrapping
himself in an American flag in the immediate aftermath of his
stunning 2008 Olympic triumph.
He had an impoverished childhood.
Cejudo was born in Los Angeles in 1987. He was a young child when
his mother left his father and took Cejudo Jr. and his siblings
first to New Mexico, and then later to Phoenix, where the future
Olympian and his family resided in a trailer. While in high school,
Cejudo’s wrestling coach used to go door to door in order to raise
money for his impoverished students to enter tournaments. Prior to
moving to a dorm at the United States Olympic Committee’s Training
Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Cejudo had never had a bed
all to himself. “The Messenger” has no regrets about his formative
years and is adamant that they provided him with a strong work
ethic. When questioned in an interview about his challenging
childhood, he stated, “I’m not into that whole victimhood thing.”