By Jonathan Solomon
An elite wrestling pedigree and an undefeated start to his professional mixed martial arts career, Henry Cejudo has every opportunity to have a long and fruitful career. Now, he’ll take his journey to the Legacy Fighting Championship starting in October, the promotion announced this week.
Cejudo, 26-years-old, out of Los Angeles, California, earned his Olympic gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at 121-pounds in freestyle wrestling. He retired from the sport last year and set his sights on MMA.
Debuting earlier this year, he has reeled off four consecutive wins, each from stoppages due to strikes in the first round. He competes at bantamweight and will debut for Legacy FC on October 11 at LFC 24 when he fights Ryan Hollis (4-2), a 24-year-old Texas competitor. The event will air live on AXS TV across satellite providers from Dallas.
Considered one of the very best prospects in the sport and the top bantamweight neophyte, he has the promotion buzzing with excitement. Company president, Mick Maynard said, “Since finding out that Henry was moving into MMA, I have pursued the possibility of him competing for us.”
With Cejudo preparing to kick off his run in the promotion, he undoubtedly has his sights on reigning bantamweight champion Matthew Hobar (8-1, he avenged his only loss to Steven Peterson), who has won his past three fights.
Cejudo joins an elite group of recent U.S. Olympic wrestlers who have made the switch to MMA, although he’s the only one to win gold. Cejudo’s teammates in 2008 featured current top UFC heavyweight contender Daniel Cormier and reigning Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren. Both stars remain undefeated as professionals with the former set to fight Roy Nelson at UFC 166 in October and the latter having just finished previously-undefeated Andrey Koreshkov by TKO one month ago.
The last Olympic gold medalist to transition to MMA was Japan’s Satoshi Ishii who won the prize in Judo in 2008. He turned to this sport the following year and is now 9-2-1 overall, competing mostly in his native country. He was knocked out by Fedor Emelianenko in 2011, but has been successful in his past five fights including wins against Tim Sylvia, Sean McCorkle and Pedro Rizzo.
While it’s impossible to correctly predict today how Cejudo’s MMA career will play out after beginning 4-0, he has most believing there is no limit.
What are your thoughts?