It’s been awhile since Cejudo reached the peak of his career. However, the 2008 gold medalist hopes to once again reach the top of his sport, this time as a mixed martial artist.
Saturday night, Cejudo made his debut in Tucson as the co-main event for the World Fighting Federation. The 2008 121-pound wrestler for Team USA, is an Arizona resident, and was taking on local Tucson resident Michael Poe in a bantamweight contest.
As the action started, Henry Cejudo rushed towards Poe, who began backpedaling, but managed to catch Cejudo with his first punch. However, the glancing blow had little effect.
“It was different. It’s a little faster paced here. I was a little shocked,” said Cejudo after the bout. “That dude has a pair of cojones on him. He just came out swinging. He caught me with a shot but it was nothing crazy. I don’t like getting hit. I really work on my defense a lot, that’s what makes me a good fighter. It’s part of the sport, getting hit.”
Poe followed up his punch with a spinning back kick that barely touched Cejudo. Right after that, Cejudo answered with his own big takedown, driving Poe to the canvas. The move put his opponent on his back in a position you don’t want to be against an Olympic caliber wrestler.
From there, Henry Cejudo tried for a little ground and pound which had no success, while Poe tried his own submission attempts, also with no success. Finally, while in full guard, Cejudo found his mark, raining down some rapid-fire rights which quickly forced the referee to call a halt to the action. The win gave Cejudo a TKO in his first professional fight, while Poe dropped his fifth consecutive contest.
The stoppage of the fight was just barely 90 seconds in, and was met by some moderate booing due to many believing it was just a touch premature. However, when it was all said and done, Cejudo was happy with the performance, as well as the nerves that came along with the fight.
“It’s a little different, but I had a chance to wrestle in Iran, in front of sold out soccer stadiums,” said Cejudo. “I had a chance to wrestle in the middle in Times Square for Team USA versus Russia, the Olympic games — it’s hard to beat that. At the same time, this is something new and intense. I like it. I like the rush.”
Although it may be his first fight, Cejudo plans to keep a very active schedule going forward. Planning to fight once per month for the rest of the year, he is certainly confident he has the goods to succeed, and where he will end up.
“On top. I don’t mean to be arrogant or ignorant. I’m here to perform. I’m here to get better,” said Cejduo. “I’m here to listen to my trainers and my coaches. I just want to continue to get better. All I can promise you is that I’m going to give it my all.”