Henry Cejudo has already shown that he is one of the top flyweights the UFC has, and he could be in line for a title shot if he can defeat Jussier Formiga in November. But Cejudo, an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling, is also a man with values. When fellow fighter Nick Diaz was suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission for a ridiculous five years, he decided to speak up.
Cejudo and his manager wrote a letter saying he'd never fight in Nevada again.
A lot of fighters might change their minds after they do something drastic like that - after all, Nevada is UFC HQ and it's where they stage a large portion of their title fights. But when speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour today, Cejudo didn't back down at all. In fact, he even upped the stakes a bit (via MMA Fighting):
"My immediate reaction was that it was something that was unjust. Throughout the period of 2004 through 2012, I've probably been tested about 100 times by USADA [United States Anti-Doping Agency], but never have I run into a case where somebody has been tested three times in the span of probably 12 hours. To me it's something that's unjust, and I feel like as an Olympic athlete who's now a UFC fighter it gives the...I feel like I have his side because I've been there before. And not to discount the fact that he passed two tests and the only test that came back negative was a test that wasn't even credited by WADA.
"To me it was just like, man, I felt like Nick Diaz was targeted from the get-go. And I just can't sit there and let this man be suspended for five years. I can't even live with myself, because I've been through this process from the age of 17 to the age of 26."
After defending Diaz, he made it clear that his stance wouldn't change even if it meant that he would have to pass on a title shot if it was in Nevada:
"To me it’s not so much based on success," he said. "As a competitor, I want to compete and I want to accomplish everything, but to me the message here is to do what’s right. Will I become a UFC champion some day? I know I will. Will I do it now? Maybe I don’t have to. Maybe I’m more into protests now for the sake of this man who’s been wrongly processed with this five-year ban. That’s ridiculous."
"I know we have a big UFC coming up in December with Conor McGregor headlining, and [Chris] Weidman," he said, referring to the three UFC cards between Dec. 10-12. "I definitely don’t want to sidetrack that event.
"I’m just here to take a step for my personal view, and I just couldn’t do it. Even if that means leaving the belt on the line and leaving somebody else to fight whoever has that belt at that time, I’m willing to do that. I’m willing to show the type of person with the type of character that I am."
Cejudo meets Formiga in the UFC's debut in Monterrey, Mexico at the TUF Latin America 2 Finale on November 21st.