The first iteration of Henry Cejudo’s MMA career ended after he scored a TKO win over Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in defense of the UFC bantamweight crown.

Since his retirement, the former two-division UFC champ teased a return to action so often that it reached a point where it almost became a bad comic routine. At one point, UFC president Dana White, perhaps tiring of fielding questions about Cejudo’s talk of a return to the octagon, said, “Cejudo knows what he needs to do to get back in and get—whatever. I mean, just talking sh-t on Instagram does not get you fights.”

We don’t know exactly when Cejudo put his, “I’m coming back’ shtick to rest, but we know he did because his name shows up on the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) website with a “4” listed under the “Test Count” for the second quarter of 2022.

With that, Cejudo, who was 16-2 when he walked away from the sport, could be back in action by the end of this year.

Per USADA, who oversees the UFC’s anti-doping program, “Athletes wanting to come out of retirement and return to eligible status must enroll in the USADA testing pool, fulfilling all Whereabouts requirements, and make themselves available for testing for a period of at least six (6) months in advance of participating in International or National level events as defined in the Code. “

When he returns to the Octagon, Cejudo’s coach, Eric Albarracin, sees another “C” being added to Cejudo’s “Triple C” nickname.

“‘Triple C’ will officially become ‘C4’ this year,” Albarracin said recently on The MMA Hour. “He is back in the (USADA testing) 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.”

Albarracin thinks Cejudo, who held UFC belts at 125 and 135 pounds, is going to make a run at current UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling, but that doesn’t mean Cejudo, who also holds an Olympic gold medal in wresting – hence “Triple C” – won’t look to add the flyweight title to his trophy case.

“The word on the street is [bantamweight], so I think he’s coming after Aljamain. 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. I think Volkanovski’s great, Henry thinks he’s average. 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.”

With Cejudo rejoining the USADA pool in the second quarter of 2022 and still ineligible to fight, the UFC has not booked him for a fight. However, Albarracin thinks Cejudo’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, will land his charge a title fight without an issue.

“Ali can get a lot of people title shots,” Albarracin said. “It should not be that hard for the greatest combat athlete, the Olympic champion, the two-time UFC champion, who left on top – [Georges St-Pierre] did it. ‘Triple C’ should be able to do it as well.”

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