Henry Cejudo will be the third Olympic gold medalist to compete for UFC after signing a promotional contract announced Friday.
Cejudo became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at 21 at Beijing 2008. The son of illegal immigrants from Mexico, his story gained instant fame, and was told in a book, “American Victory.”
He did not qualify for London at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and gave up wrestling to start a mixed martial arts career.
“In wrestling, you’re talking about a fraternity of champions, and I got a chance to be a part of that Olympic championship club,” he said, according to UFC.com. “And anyone that ever won the Olympics in wrestling, there’s something different about them. And that’s something that I’ve always wanted to carry over to mixed martial arts when it comes to discipline, when it comes to technique, and when it comes to becoming an overall fighter. Everything that I did to win a gold medal, I’m practically transferring it over to mixed martial arts.”
Cejudo’s first UFC bout will be in Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 30 in the flyweight division, though he’s 6-0 with four knockouts already as a pro.
“I always wanted to become a student of the game and at least get six to eight fights before coming to the UFC,” he told UFC.com. “Now I think I’m in my prime, and I’ve never felt this strong in my life. I won the Olympics at 21. I could only grow half a mustache (laughs), and now I’ve got a full beard.”
Cejudo joins fellow wrestlers Kevin Jackson and Mark Schultz in competing in UFC after winning Olympic golds. Of course, one of the most famous names in MMA is 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey.