Henry Cejudo suggested he may retire again after falling short in his bid to recapture the UFC bantamweight title from Aljamain Sterling.
‘The Funk Master’ did enough to impress two of the three cageside judges who scored the fight 48-47 in his favour, while the third had the same score for Cejudo, after five rounds of action at UFC 288.
‘Triple C’ took off his gloves in a move that usually signifies a fighter’s retirement before dancing around the subject during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
Before that, top 135lb contender Sean O’Malley got into the octagon and went nose-to-nose with Sterling in a fiery face-off that threatened to boil over when a member of the champions team stole his jacket.
Thankfully, UFC security kept things under wraps and everyone’s attention quickly turned back to what was a great fight between two top competitors.
Cejudo showed off his grappling credentials early as he took the champion down to the floor – but was unable to keep him there for a significant amount of time.
When the fight returned to the feet, Cejudo seemed to be struggling with the reach discrepancy before Sterling showed he can match him in the wrestling exchanges with a takedown of his own.
‘The Funkmaster’ became just the second fighter to take down Cejudo in the UFC and he ended up securing his opponent’s back and finished round one in a seriously dominant position.
Cejudo got off to a good start to the second round with his striking but Sterling quickly worked his way back into things with an array of punches and kicks from range.
Both men stayed away from the grappling, for the most part, but the 135lb king mixed in a couple of lazy takedown attempts that saw him finish the five-minute frame on the bottom.
‘Triple C’ started round three with a flying knee that landed flush on Sterling’s face and forced him into a desperate takedown attempt that was easily countered.
Cejudo was able to deal with his opponent’s wrestling attacks in the open mat but the Jamaican-American had some success up against the fence despite being unable to get his man down to the floor.
Sterling got more and more tired with every takedown attempt but – besides a brief takedown – Cejudo struggled to take advantage of it.
At the start of round four, Sterling raced into a lead as he landed a bunch of leg kicks without reply but Cejudo chased him around the Octagon looking for a big punch.
It was a competitive round but ended with Sterling securing his fourth takedown of the fight before unleashing a barrage of strikes when his rival popped back up to his feet.
With the UFC 288 title fight hanging in the balance, neither man really pushed the pace at the start of round five, but it caught fire when they both scored with big punches at the midway point.
Cejudo landed some good knees in the clinch before throwing Sterling to the ground and seeing out the fight with a strong grappling position up against the fence.
Despite suffering a defeat in his first fight in three years, Cejudo seemingly still has a lot to offer and could come again if he chooses to continue competing at 36 years old.