Henry Cejudo
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Henry Cejudo announces shock retirement at UFC 249, wearing an error Olympic gold medal

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Henry Cejudo announced a surprise retirement after beating Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, extending his reign as the only Olympic gold medalist to wear a UFC Championship belt. He said that he’s the greatest combat fighter of all time.

“Since I was 11 years old, I probably have about 600 competitions of wrestling matches in my life,” Cejudo, 33, said in Jacksonville, Fla., early Sunday morning with a patch of blood on his hairline from a headbutt. “That’s all I’ve ever done. I don’t have kids. I finally got a girl now. But I want to step into that new chapter of my life. I’ve been extremely selfish, rightfully so, to obtain what I’ve obtained. … I want to leave on top. I did it in wrestling. I want to do it now in the sport of mixed martial arts. I just don’t see myself coming back. I want to remain king forever.

“This isn’t a publicity stunt.”

Cejudo finished his mixed martial arts career with a TKO of Cruz in the second round, defending his UFC Bantamweight Championship and moving to 16-2 since 2013. He did go back and forth in a post-fight press conference, teasing that money could lure him back, then saying he was satisfied financially.

“[UFC President Dana White] knows the number,” he said. “I really do want to walk away, but like I said, man, money talks.”

Cejudo said he would like to become a husband and father, venture into real estate and business and maybe even make a WWE appearance.

“I wasn’t the greatest wrestler. Olympic champion, but I wasn’t the greatest wrestler of all time,” he said. “I’m not the greatest [mixed martial arts] fighter of all time, but when you mix my resume and what I’ve done, I do believe I’m on top of that mountain. I do sincerely believe I am the greatest combat athlete of all time, and I do want to leave on top.”

In 2012, Cejudo, then 21, became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion in history, a record since broken by Kyle Snyder. Unlike Snyder, it was truly a surprise title. Cejudo had finished 31st in his lone senior world championships appearance in 2007.

He gained instant fame for his Beijing triumph as the son of undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Cejudo’s story was told in a book, “American Victory.”

Cejudo took three years away from wrestling, came back for the 2012 Olympic Trials, lost and retired.

He debuted in MMA the following year. In a 10-month span in 2018 and 2019, Cejudo won the UFC Flyweight and UFC Bantamweight Championships. He became the first Olympic champion to win a UFC belt (Ronda Rousey is an Olympic bronze medalist and former UFC champion).

Asked to compare his wrestling and UFC titles, Cejudo, wearing a replica Olympic gold medal with an error on it and sitting in front of a UFC belt, chose to raise the medal from around his neck.

“This is the greatest sport. This is the sport that’s made me,” he said of wrestling after a UFC card where the two premier fights each featured former wrestlers. “As precious as these belts are, there’s no harder sport than the sport of wrestling.”

MORE: Kurt Angle reflects on Olympic wrestling gold medal

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Olympic wrestlers tie for gold medal, 8 years after the competition

Bilyal Makhov
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A pair of doping cases led to the first Olympic gold-medal tie in wrestling history, eight years after the matches took place.

Russian Bilyal Makhov was upgraded to 2012 Olympic freestyle super heavyweight gold, joining Iranian Komeil Ghasemi, who was upgraded last year, according to the IOC’s website.

In February, Russian media reported that Makhov recently tested positive for growth hormone, which would have no bearing on 2012 results.

The move came after the finalists in 2012 — Uzbek Artur Taymazov and Georgian Davit Modzmanashvil — were stripped of their gold and silver medals last year in retests of doping samples from the London Games.

Makhov and Ghasemi each originally earned bronze medals. In wrestling, bronze medals are awarded to each match winner in repechage finals.

Ghasemi, whose only loss in London came to gold medalist Taymazov, was originally upgraded to gold by United World Wrestling in 2019. Makhov, whose loss came to Modzmanashvil, was originally upgraded to silver before the later upgrade to a second gold.

American Tervel Dlagnev and Kazakh Daulet Shabanbay, who lost the bronze-medal matches to Ghasemi and Makhov, were upgraded to bronze-medal positions last year, according to United World Wrestling.

Taymazov became the second athlete to be stripped of gold medals from multiple Olympics for doping, losing his London 2012 title two years after giving up his Beijing 2008 crown. Both were because of retests coming back positive for banned steroids.

Wrestling has been contested at every modern Olympics save 1900.

In 1912, Sweden’s Anders Ahlgren and Finland’s Ivar Bohling wrestled for nine hours in a final without deciding a winner, according to Olympedia.org. The match was declared a “double loss” and both awarded silver medals. There was no gold medalist.

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MORE: World wrestling championships rescheduled for 2020

Deajah Stevens, Olympic sprinter, suspended through Tokyo Games

Deajah Stevens
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Deajah Stevens, a U.S. Olympic 200m sprinter, was suspended through Aug. 15, 2021, for missing drug tests, ruling her out of the Tokyo Games unless she successfully appeals.

Stevens, who placed seventh in Rio, missed three drug tests in 2019, grounds for a suspension between one and two years.

The exact length depends on an athlete’s degree of fault and, with the timing in this case, determined whether she would be banned through the Olympics.

Full details of her case are here.

The 18-month ban was backdated to Feb. 17, the date that Stevens requested her case be expedited. Her last of three missed tests was Nov. 25.

Stevens’ lawyer requested the suspension be backdated to the third missed test, which would have kept her eligible for the Olympics, or the date of Stevens’ request for an expedited hearing on Feb. 17, which could have kept her Olympic eligible if the ban was closer to one year.

For Stevens’ second missed test, she did not hear door knocks from a back bedroom. The drug tester called her five times but never received an answer. Stevens said her phone was out of battery power.

For her last missed test, the drug tester again tried to call Stevens. But Stevens changed her phone number six weeks earlier, after somebody was harassing her and threatening her fiance’s life. She had not yet notified drug-testing authorities that she changed her number.

“Despite our sympathy for the athlete, we have not been satisfied on a balance of probability that her behavior was not negligent and did not cause or contribute to her failure to be available for testing,” a disciplinary tribunal found. “She already had missed two doping tests in the last six months. She should have been on red alert and conscious that she could not miss the next one.”

Stevens’ initial provisional suspension was announced May 1 ahead of a June 25 disciplinary tribunal hearing.

Stevens, 25, was disqualified from the 2019 U.S. Outdoor Championships 200m semifinals in her only outdoor meet of the year, according to World Athletics.

She ranked No. 3 in the U.S. in the 200m in 2017 (and placed fifth at the world championships), No. 31 in 2018 and No. 59 in 2019.

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