Henry Cejudo has been flying under the radar for much of his MMA career. With his upcoming flyweight title shot at UFC 197, against Demetrious Johnson, it seems as good a time as any to look at some this Olympic gold medalist’s accomplishments.
1. At 21, Cejudo was the youngest American to ever win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling. He did it at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
2. His MMA debut was only three years ago, on March 2, 2013. In his first fight, he beat Michael Poe. He is already an elite MMA fighter in little over 1000 days.
3. He is the third gold medalist to compete in UFC history. Freestyle Olympic champs Mark Schultz and Kevin Jackson preceded him, but neither was nearly as successful as Cejudo.
4. He was a four time high school state wrestling champion; winning two championships in Arizona and another two in Colorado. Overall, his high school wrestling record was 120-3.
5. His brother Angel was also an elite wrestler; who won four state championships, with a 150-0 record.
6. He is a heavy underdog going into his title fight with Demetrious Johnson this Saturday. Some sports books have him as 4-1 dog. Johnson is really, really good.
7. Cejudo is undefeated in MMA, with a 10-0 record.
8. He is an ardent Nick Diaz supporter. When Diaz was suspended for 5 years by the Nevada Athletic Commission, for testing positive for marijuana metabolites, Cejudo refused to fight in Nevada until the punishment was reduced.
9. In the 2008 Olympics, Cejudo wrestled at 121 lbs. In MMA, he has fought at 135 and 125 lbs. On more than one occasion, he has struggled to make the 125 pound flyweight limit.
10. He was the youngest of six children and was raised primarily by his mother, who emigrated from Mexico to California. His father was in and out of prison for most of his childhood.
Even though he is a big underdog, fighting the second best fighter in MMA (Demetrious Johnson), do not count Cejudo out. He has been doing amazing things in athletics for the last ten years. He is special and could easily prove it again on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
With the entire MMA world focused on Jon Jones’ arrests and Conor McGregor’s tweets, everyone is forgetting that a gold medalist in freestyle wrestling will be fighting the second best pound for pound fighter on Earth. It’s actually a big deal and historically significant. Don’t sleep on it. Here’s hoping the winner of Johnson vs. Cejudo gets to appear at some dump in Connecticut with Tim and Suzie on NGAFMS.