Henry Cejudo, known by many as Triple C, is one of the most prolific yet polarising fighters the UFC has ever seen. From capturing the Freestyle wrestling gold in the 2008 summer Olympics to becoming a simultaneous Flyweight and bantamweight champion for the promotion, the king of cringe has amassed an impressive resume. His exploits in and out of the octagon make him one of the most successful combat sports athletes of all time. Since retiring at UFC 249, Cejudo has, on multiple occasions, called out the defending champions of both his previous divisions. If Triple C steps back into the octagon, does he deserve an immediate title shot?
Henry Cejudo was a UFC double champ, an achievement only three others have replicated in the organization’s history. And as far as skills go, Cejudo is a menace in stand-up and grappling exchanges. Being an Arizona golden glove champion and an Olympic gold medallist wrestler Cejudo is as well-rounded as fighters come. His stellar run taking out UFC legends like Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, Dominick Cruz, TJ Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes back-to-back was a spectacle few other UFC tales can match up to. Triple C also revived the flyweight division by putting an end to the long unbeaten title run of Demetrious Johnson.
If skills, portfolio or even spoils of the past are the only factors to consider while granting one a crack at the championship strap, then Henry Cejudo is more than deserving of the opportunity. Indeed, UFC has taken similar stances in the past with Georges St-Pierre and Randy Couture. When GSP and Couture came back from long layoffs, the UFC treated them with an immediate title shot. By the same logic, Cejudo also deserves similar treatment.
However, UFC is the largest combat sports organization in the world and needs a massive amount of funds to keep the show rolling. A big part of UFC’s profits come from their Pay-Per-View and ticket sales. Megastars like Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, and Israel Adesanya have often brought more eyeballs to the sport, helping the organization gain high-profit margins. Cejudo, even though loved (and hated passionately) by hardcore fans for his fighting and off-the octagon antics, was never a big PPV star. In fact, Cejudo has never headlined a numbered UFC event. The lower weight divisions of the UFC always had trouble creating global superstars and Henry Cejudo is perhaps yet another casualty of this bias.
So, the question remains: does The King of Cringe Triple C deserve an immediate title shot at his comeback? Should skill and portfolio alone determine one’s merit on the road to UFC gold, or should marketability be the deciding chip? Considering UFC as a platform to find the best fighters on the planet, Cejudo is more than a deserving candidate to fight for UFC gold. But as a profit-generating superstar, Triple C does not make the cut.