Eric Albarracin: Henry Cejudo will become ‘C4’ this year


Close to the halfway point of 2022, Henry Cejudo coach Eric Albarracin is still confident his charge will collect another belt by year’s end.

“‘Triple C’ will officially become ‘C4’ this year,” Albarracin said recently on The MMA Hour. “He is back in the [U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] pool, we go head-first into it. Henry comes from the Olympic Training Center; he’s been tested since he was a sophomore in high school.”

Cejudo has to have been in USADA’s random drug screening pool for at least six months and not be found to be positive to enter the octagon. The former two-division champ and Olympic gold medalist reportedly re-joined the pool this past month after nearly two years of retirement. He stepped away from the sport after defending the bantamweight title against ex-champ Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, seeking bigger paydays and other business challenges. He later went into podcasting and coaching, working with Fight Ready in Arizona.

“He’ll be ready to go – he’s already training,” said Albarracin, Cejudo’s longtime wrestling and MMA coach. “Henry really never stopped training. When he was coaching, it was awesome. He was there every day. This is a common saying with athletes: You become a better coach, but still aren’t in your prime. It’s hard to go back.

“But Henry’s still in his prime. He became a coach. He’s one of the best coaches in the game. You saw what he did with [Deiveson Figueiredo]. He did a lot with Weili Zhu. Jon Jones and Jiri PROCHAZKA were brought in by him. He was hardworking and had a new baby. … He maximized his efforts to assist these athletes in their sporting dreams. He’s now an expert, has studied and is ready to return for more. .”

Albarracin clarified that Cejudo’s “C4” moniker doesn’t mean featherweight is first up when the ex-champ returns, though Cejudo certainly has called out the 145-pound champ Alexander Volkanovski on several occasions.

” The word is [bantamweight], So I believe he’s following Aljamain [Sterling].. I think Volkanovski, I don’t think he understands how good Henry is. I think either he’s scared of him or is blowing off. Henry believes Volkanovski is great. I believe Volkanovski is fantastic. But they haven’t been able to get them on board with each other. But I do think if he comes back and gets the 135-pound title, he can move up, and an immediate world title shot at 145, whether it’s Volkanovski or Max Holloway.”

Volkanovski and Holloway are scheduled to meet a third time at UFC 276, which takes place July 2 in Las Vegas.

“Two to three years ago, I would have never thought Henry would want to fight Max Holloway, but like I said, when Henry started coaching, he started watching Max Holloway, and I think [we] fought Volkanovski a couple times for The Korean Zombie fight, and we saw, and Henry’s like, ‘Man, I can get Holloway. Albarracin stated, “I want Holloway.” “So Henry’s confident whether it’s Holloway or Alex.”

The coach isn’t sure whether Cejudo will get an immediate title shot when he returns; Sterling is next expected to meet ex-champ T.J. Dillashaw, whom he called out after his UFC 273 title rematch against Petr Yan. Cejudo will be on the sidelines due to the USADA schedule until October so there is a window.

Cejudo has also talked about mending fences with UFC President Dana White, who declared him retired despite multiple indications a comeback could be imminent. White wasn’t a fan Cejudo’s method of obtaining a title fight from the blue.

Nevertheless, Albarracin is confident his charge will pick up right where he left off, no matter how he walked away.

“[Cejudo manager] Ali [Abdelaziz] can get a lot of people title shots,” the coach said. It shouldn’t be difficult for the Olympic champion and two-time UFC champion [Georges St-Pierre] to do it. Triple C’ ought to be able