The UFC has been home to several Olympians over the years, including medalists Ronda Rousey, Sara McMann, Yoel Romero, and Matt Lindland. But the only Olympic Gold medalists to compete in the Octagon thus far have been 1992 Gold winner in freestyle wrestling Kevin Jackson, and fellow wrestler Mark Schultz, who scored Gold in 1984.
That is until today, as the 2008 United States Olympic Gold medal winner in freestyle wrestling, Henry Cejudo, has been signed to a promotional contract that will start with his UFC 177 flyweight bout against Scott Jorgensen on August 30 in Sacramento.
“It feels good to be part of the UFC family finally,” said the 27-year-old Cejudo.
Cejudo was a highly decorated amateur wrestler, foregoing the traditional college route to train with Team USA in Colorado Springs, and in 2008, he became the youngest American wrestler to win Gold in the Olympics when he defeated Japan’s Tomohiro Matsunaga in Beijing.
After missing out on the 2012 Games, Phoenix’ Cejudo transitioned to mixed martial arts, making his pro debut in March of 2013 with an 85-second finish of Michael Poe.
“In wrestling, you’re talking about a fraternity of champions, and I got a chance to be a part of that Olympic championship club,” he said. “And anyone that ever won the Olympics in wrestling, there’s something different about them. And that’s something that I’ve always wanted to carry over to mixed martial arts when it comes to discipline, when it comes to technique, and when it comes to becoming an overall fighter. Everything that I did to win a Gold medal, I’m practically transferring it over to mixed martial arts.”
Currently 6-0 as a pro with four knockouts, Cejudo believes he’s coming into the world-renowned Octagon at precisely the right time.
“I always wanted to become a student of the game and at least get six to eight fights before coming to the UFC,” he said. “Now I think I’m in my prime, and I’ve never felt this strong in my life. I won the Olympics at 21. I could only grow half a mustache (laughs), and now I’ve got a full beard.”
And he has a tough opponent in front of him in longtime bantamweight – and now flyweight – contender Jorgensen. It’s a trial by fire, but one Cejudo believes is just the first step toward even bigger fights in the future.
“He (Jorgensen) is a tough fighter and I know it’s going to be a fight,” said Cejudo. “He’s a wrestler, he wrestled Division I, and it’s not going to be an easy fight, that’s for sure. But I’m ready. You could say I was born ready, and if that’s who they want me to fight, that’s who I’ll fight. My goal is to become a world champion.”
The quest begins on August 30.
UFC Signs Olympic Gold Winner Cejudo
The flyweight division adds an Olympic Gold medalist in Henry Cejudo