Voting is now open for the 12th annual World MMA Awards. Head here to vote for your favourite fighters and MMA personalities.
Fighters Only has extended the nomination period from 12 months to 18 months (1st January 2019 – 30th June 2020) to best account for all global MMA action and performances.
The star-studded, black-tie 2020 World MMA Awards event will be held in October 2020 on a date and location to be announced.
In the lead-up to the big show, we are profiling each of the 12th annual World MMA Awards nominees.
Henry Cejudo is nominated as the Charles ‘Mask’ Lewis Fighter of the Year in the 12th annual World MMA Awards.
What an 18 months Henry “Triple C” Cejudo had.
After winning UFC flyweight gold from the division’s seemingly unstoppable champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson in August, 2018, Cejudo soon returned to the Octagon to defend his title in January, 2019.
His challenger was then-UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, who was stepping down a weight class for the first time in an attempt to become a concurrent multi-division titleholder in the UFC.
Cejudo had Dillashaw hurt within 20 seconds of their fight. His relentless follow-up assault forced the referee to intervene to award him a TKO win and his first championship defence in little over 32 seconds.
It was a victory many believe to be what saved the UFC’s flyweight division from being dissolved.
After the fight, news emerged that Dillashaw had relinquished his UFC bantamweight title after failing pre and post-fight drug tests for erythropoietin (EPO).
Looking to add to the gold he had already picked up in the 2008 Beijing Olympic games and the UFC flyweight division, Cejudo jumped up a weight class for the chance to earn Dillashaw’s now-vacated bantamweight belt.
On 8 June, 2019 Cejudo took on Brazil’s Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 in an attempt to become a simultaneous two-weight champion.
After some early adversity, Cejudo showed the heart and determination to impose his will on the fight from the second round on.
Ex-WSOF bantamweight champion Moraes wilted under Cejudo’s relentless pressure and succumbed to a TKO loss late in the fight’s third round.
With this victory, Cejudo became only the fourth-ever UFC fighter to hold championships simultaneously in two weight divisions and rightly earned his “Triple C” [Triple Champ] moniker.
Cejudo was blighted with a shoulder injury for the rest of 2019 and agreed to relinquish his UFC flyweight title to focus on defending his bantamweight belt.
Jose Aldo was named Cejudo’s first bantamweight title challenger and the pair were due to face off at UFC 250 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in April, 2020.
As you are all well aware, the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hit and the UFC were forced to regroup and rearrange their fight cards accordingly. Cejudo’s title defence was then relocated to the U.S. to take place in an arena behind closed doors.
Brazil’s Aldo couldn’t fly to the USA for a fight on an alternative date due to enforced travel restrictions, so up stepped former UFC and WEC bantamweight king Dominick Cruz as Cejudo’s title challenger.
Cejudo and Cruz squared off at UFC 249 – the first event the UFC held behind closed doors at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
In the first round, Cejudo chopped away at Cruz’s legs to stifle his movement – a major factor behind the success of Cruz’s long and storied MMA career.
The second round followed a similarly frenetic pace as both fighters exchanged blows. An inadvertent clash of heads caused the contest to be paused late on in the second stanza as blood leaked from Cejudo’s head.
After being given the all clear to continue on, Cejudo tried to make the most of the seconds left remaining in the round. And that he did.
Cejudo aggressively stalked Cruz, catching him lunging in and meeting his head with a big knee. Cruz fell to his back and tried to work his way to a better position as Cejudo continued to rain down blows.
Referee Keith Peterson saw enough and pulled Cejudo off Cruz to award Triple C his third consecutive stoppage win in big stakes UFC championship fights.
In his post-fight interview, Cejudo abruptly announced his retirement from the sport. He has since said he would return to the Octagon if he could face UFC featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski to potentially become an unprecedented three-weight UFC champion.
Whatever the future holds for Cejudo, it’s undeniable that he had a fantastic 18 months in MMA.
Not only did he become a concurrent UFC two-division champ – defending both titles in that time period, too – he became a major talking point in the combat sports world with his antics outside of the cage. Whether you liked his “King of Cringe” persona or not, Cejudo took it upon himself to build up his career and backed up everything he talked.
Cejudo says he’s up there with the greatest athletes in combat sports history. With an Olympic wrestling gold and two UFC titles to his name, he certainly makes a strong case and his 2019-20 run has a lot to do with that.
Voting is now open for the 12th annual World MMA Awards.
Head here to vote for your favourite fighters and MMA personalities.