Chico Camus is in a hurry. The Milwaukee flyweight, just a couple weeks away from fighting Henry Cejudo in a UFC 188 bout in Mexico City, has to get one of his two sons to baseball practice, and there’s nowhere else he’d rather be. It almost sounds like Camus is a typical suburban dad on a beautiful spring day in Wisconsin.
“I’m far from the suburban guy,” he laughs. “But I live for my kids. The UFC and fighting is the way I provide for them, but all that is second and third when it comes to my family.”
If you see or talk to him today, that’s no surprise. He dotes on his boys, brings them to whatever practice or game is next, whether it’s baseball, football or wrestling, and when he says that he’s a “full-time dad,” the pride is evident. So when he tells people of his “old” life, it’s almost shocking for them to hear.
“I tell stories of how I came up, how I was out here shooting guns and running from cops and getting locked up and selling drugs and doing drugs and all these crazy things, and they say ‘I could never see that,’” he said. “To me, that’s awesome and a testament to my growth and the type of father I am. I believe I’m doing a pretty good job of raising my kids and it puts everything into perspective.”
Hearing that, it’s as if regardless of the result on Saturday night, Camus is a winner. And he would probably agree, but at the same time, he’d like to have his cake and eat it too by getting his hand raised against the former U.S. Olympic Gold medalist in freestyle wrestling.
“I’m excited to fight probably the most talented guy I’ve ever fought in my life and just test his skills,” Camus said of Cejudo. “I don’t think he’s really had a fight yet other than coming in and beating people up. He’s 8-0 and he hasn’t been tested at all. And he’s going against a guy who’s been tested numerous times, whether it was inside the cage or outside the cage, and I’m willing and ready to give him a taste of the stuff that I’ve been through, and to see how he reacts when he’s put in these stressful positions.”
While not boastful in the slightest, Camus’ confidence is evident, and that’s probably due to a couple of factors, most evident being his move from bantamweight to flyweight. Always dangerous and a tough out at 135 pounds, his drop to 125 pounds last November, when he beat Brad Pickett, showed him to be an even more threatening figure to the division’s elite.
“I knew it was the right move,” he said. “Even while I was cutting weight, it wasn’t the prettiest thing (Laughs), but it wasn’t horrible. 125 felt great, and I was even on weight the day before weigh-ins for Pickett. I don’t know if this was a sign from God that I should have been here in the first place, but it definitely felt good going into the fight. I was happy it was a three-round war as well because I was able to test my legs and test my cardio with the weight cut and everything felt perfect while I was in there. I should have started at ‘25 and wouldn’t have to deal with all those giants at ‘35.
“But even at ‘35, I never got grabbed and slammed by somebody, where I was like ‘wow, he’s very strong,’ and had somebody outmatching my strength,” Camus continues. “There were just a lot of bigger guys and they would benefit from holding me against the cage or holding me down and stuff like that, where it would be a little bit tougher to get up because everybody in the UFC’s very good. But at ‘25, it evens the playing field. I don’t think there are too many ‘25ers that can take me down and hold me down. I’m fighting guys my size, which is good, and I’m actually even taller than a couple guys at flyweight, which makes me feel like a giant (Laughs).”
Yet perhaps the biggest factor in Camus’ recent success and the good vibes surrounding him these days is that after a brief time away, he’s back with Duke Roufus and the Roufusport team. The spring in Camus’ step was evident in the Pickett fight, and it’s carried on here as he preps for Cejudo, and though the technical and physical benefits are clear, it’s the idea of being surrounded by good friends and teammates that have “The King” smiling again.
“I credit a lot of stuff to Duke, even when I was gone from there and I was training in other places,” Camus said. “Duke had taught me a lot, as well as guys like Anthony (Pettis) and even guys that are younger than me. I learn from everybody in that gym every day, and it’s probably the same for them with me. I’m home, and everything’s happier and everything’s better. You look at the guys I started my career with. I started with Anthony, I started with Sergio (Pettis), I started with Duke, and it made everything right. When I was away from Duke’s, I was kind of depressed, it was hard to get up and go to the gym every day, and I hated the sport for a little bit because I just wasn’t happy with myself. And being back at Duke’s, it woke me up and made me love the sport again. And just being back with my brothers, my training partners, my coaches who I love, just made everything feel right, and it carried on into the fight. I was back in love with the sport again and I’m climbing to be a flyweight champion soon.”
A win over Cejudo would put an immediate stamp on Camus as a legitimate title challenger and set him up for another big fight. It’s something he might not have believed possible during those dark days away from Roufusport or when he was running the streets in Milwaukee. But then again, maybe Camus always knew that this would be where he ended up – happy and on top.
“I had a rough childhood and my teenage years weren’t the prettiest, so I’ve been through a lot of stuff,” he said. “And even when I was going through this, my mom taught me that you can’t be sad long or if you have a bad day you’ve got to make yourself happy because if you have bad days and you’re always mad about stuff, then you’re not going to be around for the good ones. So I’m not someone who stays mad, and I think it’s a testament to my strength and the stuff that I’ve been through throughout my life to know that there were good times coming just around the corner; I just had to stay positive and keep training. I’m not patting myself on the back, but I feel like I’m built for this kind of stuff. Tough times don’t last, tough people do, and I believe I’m one tough f**ker. (Laughs) So I’m excited to see what’s next. I’m blessed and I’m loving life right now.”