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Henry Cejudo still angling for fight with Ryan Garcia to bring him out of retirement

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The former UFC champion has announced a retirement, but sees money in fighting Ryan Garcia.

UFC 249 Ferguson v Gaethje Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Former UFC champion Henry Cejudo announced his retirement from mixed martial arts recently, and considers himself retired fully at age 33. But he’s still angling for a potential fight with young boxing star Ryan Garcia, telling ESPN that he sees a big payday there, one he wouldn’t pass up, for more money than he ever made in UFC:

“I think Ryan Garcia would be the easiest payday ‘Triple C’ would ever get. It would be a lot bigger than any purse I did in the UFC. If there’s any fight that intrigues me between staying retired, between fighting Alexander Volkanovski or fighting Ryan Garcia, I like the payday. Plus, it’s easy money because he’s fought nobody.”

Cejudo, who retired as UFC bantamweight (135 lbs) champion in May, has had a little social media beef with the 21-year-old Garcia, dating back to mid-May, right after he announced his departure from UFC.

But Garcia appears to be moving in a direction with more serious boxing stakes, as he’s reportedly on board to fight Luke Campbell in what is effectively a WBC eliminator, with the teams ready to begin negotiations.

It’s not something to completely ignore, because there would definitely be money in having a young boxing star with a huge social media following take on a top UFC fighter in a boxing match, and Garcia has said recently he’d be willing to do it, telling ESPN last week that he’d be willing to do boxing first, then go to MMA for a rematch, commenting, “If (Cejudo doesn’t) knock me out in MMA, (he’s) a bum. If (he doesn’t) submit me or do whatever (he has) to do, (he’s) trash.”

But the issue right now seems a little more desperate on Cejudo’s side. If Garcia goes ahead with the Campbell bout — or even a WBO eliminator with Emmanuel Tagoe, also ordered recently — then Cejudo is just on the sidelines, not fighting, no paydays, no nothing.

It could be revisited later, but either fight (Campbell or Tagoe) for Garcia would signal a big step forward in his boxing career, one fight from a world title shot, and he’s been pushing for that for a while now. So Cejudo may have missed whatever small window there was to make this sort of novelty fight back in the early days of the COVID pandemic when fighters from boxing and MMA were all going bananas trying to grab headlines and find stuff to say.