Olympic gold medalist & UFC fighter returns to where his MMA career began - Tucson Local Media: Speak Out

Olympic gold medalist & UFC fighter returns to where his MMA career began

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Posted: Monday, April 18, 2016 9:10 pm

Inspirational figure, youngest Olympic gold medal wrestler in history, mixed martial arts fighter - Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo has had the honor of donning several titles before turning 30, though there is still a major goal within his sights:

The Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight title belt.

Cejudo will have the opportunity to become a world champion in the UFC this Saturday, April 23 when he takes on current champ, Demetrious “Might Mouse” Johnson as the co-main event at UFC 197 in Las Vegas. The headlining fight of the night will be Jon “Bones” Jones taking on Ovince Saint Preux for the interim light heavyweight title.

Cejudo trains out of Fight Ready MMA & Fitness Gym in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Though this Saturday will mark his first chance to don a championship belt in the UFC octagon, Cejudo has been involved in combat sports for the majority of his life, having first been introduced to wrestling by his brother, Angel. While in high school, he captured several state titles and finished with a combined record of 120-3.

After retiring from a legendary career on the wrestling mat, Cejudo decided to turn his attention to mixed martial arts. Moving up to 135 pounds, he won his professional debut in Tucson, fighting against Michael Poe at World Fighting Federation’s “WFF - Pascua Yaqui Fights 4” on Mar. 2, 2013. More than three years later, and Cejudo finds himself sharing the focus of a world-wide spotlight, fighting in the sports biggest promotion.

With a world title fight just a week away, Cejudo recently made a surprise visit to the WFF during the promotion’s most recent event, WFF 27 at Casino Del Sol Resort on April 16.

“Nothing really compares to having the opportunity to watch a guy like Henry come up through our organization, sharpen his skills, rise through the ranks and compete against the greatest in the world in the UFC,” said Thom Ortiz, founder and matchmaker for WFF.

Back in 2013, it was Ortiz who put together Cejudo’s first fight.

“We here at WFF are always looking to shine the light on the best up-and-coming talent in the world of mixed martial arts, and I think Henry is exactly that. Not only is he an outstanding wrestler and fighter, he is a genuine person and a true professional. For him to come out and visit us just a week away from competing for a belt in Vegas and visit the fans – man, there’s nothing like that kind of love.”

Though the hype surrounding Cejudo’s rise up the UFC ranks is nothing short of prolific, he will be facing his most challenging opponent to date when we squares off against Johnson on Saturday. With eight title defenses already behind him, Johnson has been competing at a level few have ever attained in the sport – though Cejudo thinks his Olympic experience and wrestling pedigree more than match Johnson’s ability.

His visit to Tucson was a treat for the huge crowd of fight fans, but Cejudo took a moment to reflect on where he's been, and pay a complement to WFF.

"Guys that come out of WFF are ready for the UFC" he said. 

Cejudo also took a moment to talk about his upcoming title shot, telling fans that he was excited to put on a show, and expected to walk away holding a UFC belt.

Check out the first behind-the-scenes episode of "UFC 197 Embedded," which follows the fighters as they train for their upcoming bouts.

Check in at www.wffmma.com to see the most exciting fighting talent in the region.

© 2017 Tucson Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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