Many people think Henry Cejudo’s shock retirement at UFC 249 was no more than a negotiating tactic but, according to coach Eric Albarracin, ‘The Messenger’ really is finished with MMA.
Speaking to MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin in a recent interview, Albarracin revealed that Cejudo made a similar decision to retire from wrestling after winning gold in the 2008 Olympics.
“Yes, I do [think he’s done],” Albarracin told MMA Fighting. “A lot of people keep going back to the Olympics. When he retired from the Olympics, nobody believed he was going to do that either. Everybody thought he was going to be the next two or three time Olympic champion. Possibly four because he was the youngest ever and he had the time to win four.
“Next day, he shut it down. He said ‘I’m retiring.’ I have seen this before and I know when he makes his mind up it’s pretty much over.”
Albarracin also revealed that Cejudo, who retired after defending his bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz in the UFC 249 co-main event, never really enjoyed training because he took it too seriously.
“I think it was his Olympic focus that really, it takes away from the fight for Henry,” he said. “He reminds me when [Georges St-Pierre] was retiring because he takes it too seriously. But that’s also what makes Henry great.
“Training camp was never fun for Henry, it was always business with a laser-like Olympic focus. I think that wears on him when you’re No. 1 since you’re 14 years old.”
Albarracin admits Cejudo’s retirement caught him by surprise but believes ‘Triple C’ made the right decision and will be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all-time.
“I thought he was going to get the fourth title and we were going to call him C4,” Albarracin said. “I was telling him in the cage ‘call him out, call out [Alexander] Volkanovski, call out [Jose] Aldo.’ We were talking about that the week of the fight. I think even the day of the fight we were talking about who he was going to call out.
“We had all these things planned out but then boom, he said he’s done. Now it’s time for him to ride off into the sunset as the greatest combat athlete of all time. There will never be another ‘Triple C.’ He’ll be the only one to ever do it.”
“This is literally his Barry Sanders moment. He’s going out at the peak of his athletic ability. Just fighting mentality as well. I’ve never seen him such warrior like. He’s always been a competitor and that’s what makes Henry different than most people is his Olympic focus and his competitiveness.
“I wasn’t sure if he was going to retire. I didn’t think he was going to retire, I’ll tell you that. This is him at his best.”
Cejudo has been removed from the UFC rankings and is no longer listed as the bantamweight champion. The 33-year-old retired with two UFC world titles to his name and wins over Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw, and Dominick Cruz.