Former UFC two-division champion Henry Cejudo believes fellow Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson has what it takes to become UFC heavyweight champion.
Steveson picked up gold in freestyle wrestling at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games but turned down a meeting with UFC president Dana White because he didn’t believe the UFC was actually interested in signing him.
Cejudo doesn’t believe the UFC could afford to sign Steveson right now but is confident the latter could beat the likes of Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou with a couple of years’ training under his belt.
Cejudo himself accomplished a similar feat after he won the flyweight title just four years after making his UFC debut.
“I actually talked to Gable yesterday,” Cejudo told TMZ Sports in a recent interview (h/t MMA Fighting). “I’m just giving him pointers, saying listen, you’ve got your manager, you’ve got your agent but you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot. You’ve got to push them, you’ve got to work, and whatever it is you decide to do, you’ve got to focus in on that and actually have a game plan because you cannot just try to dabble in all of them. A master of all trades is a master of none. Focus on one and then go to the others. I think he should do two years here, two years there, and then decide because he really does – he’s 20 years old and he has the ability to do all of them.”
“The UFC can’t afford him,” Cejudo continued. “I’m sorry, they can afford him but they’re not gonna pay him, unfortunately. I do believe in the next couple of years he could beat a guy like Jon Jones or even Francis Ngannou. He’s the biggest threat because of his wrestling base which is extremely scary…
“He’s a real heavyweight. If you were to put him in there right now, Jon Jones would hurt him, Francis Ngannou would hurt him. I’ve been there before. When I first fought Demetrious Johnson, I had already had standup and I got knocked out at 2 minutes and 36 seconds. So you do have to respect the game.”
Steveson might have turned down a meeting with Dana White but the 21-year-old phenom did attend Bellator 265 this past Friday, meaning a move to MMA could potentially still be on the cards.
Whether it’s MMA or WWE, or even a return to the amateur wrestling circuit to defend his Olympic title, ‘Triple C’ believes the world is now Steveson’s oyster.
“What Gable Steveson needs right now, he needs time. Whatever he decides to dedicate himself to, he needs two years, even for the WWE. He could probably fast-track the WWE because it’s stunts and it’s an act. But if he’s gonna go back to wrestling, he needs to go back immediately for amateur, Olympic-style wrestling. Or he’s gonna have to start training. I would go the Bellator route and maybe go to these smaller shows to build him up and then eventually take it to the UFC where they can put him against a top-five opponent right away and eventually fast-pace him to the title.”