Triple C has three new areas he wants to conquer.
Henry Cejudo defended his UFC bantamweight belt Saturday night, then retired from the sport.
“I’m 33 years old,” he said in a postfight press conference early Sunday morning. “I put a lot into my career. It’s time to spread the seed of what I give into the world.”
The Olympic wrestling champion and UFC champion at two weight divisions has a three-pronged plan.
Cejudo wants to go into real estate. He has already bought a piece of land and wants to be hands-on through the process of building a house to “learn the tricks of the trade.”
He wants a reality television show. He wants HGTV cameras to follow him as he transitions into business and “show to show the aftermath of what a professional athlete does.”
And, he wants a family. He has enthusiastically shared photos with girlfriend Amanda Dallago Chaves and is obviously eyeing the next step.
“I want to give my time to my procreation,” he said. “I just don’t envision myself fighting and having a kid. I just don’t see it.”
There was instant speculation that Cejudo’s retirement — announced in the octagon after he defeated Dominick Cruz with a second-round TKO at UFC 249 — was a publicity stunt. UFC’s No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter, Jon Jones, immediately tweeted, “Somebody’s looking for that new contract, no way he’s retiring.”
Cejudo said he understood why some would question him, admitting “money does talk.” But he then pointed to his past.
After training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and winning gold in Brazil in 2008, Cejudo abruptly retired from wrestling at 21. He never turned back to the sport that put him on a global stage and, for a time, on a rooftop mural in downtown Colorado Springs viewable just to the east of Interstate 25.
His plans have always meant something. He arrived at Coronado High School in 2004 and proclaimed his goal was to win gold. He did that. He then turned to mixed martial arts and said he’d be a champion. He was.
The only deviation from the plan was to stay in UFC as long as he did. He initially planned to retire after winning one belt. He prolonged his career to earn more money.
But the biggest plan has involved his family. As a 17-year-old at Coronado High School he wrote down a list of three life goals. No. 2 was Olympic gold and No. 3 was a UFC belt. No. 1 has always been to be a “good husband and father.”
Cejudo has no role model in this category. He’s told The Gazette that all he knows of his father is that he had a bodybuilder’s physique, a criminal rap sheet and undocumented immigrant status from Mexico. Cejudo’s mother took her seven children — Henry was the youngest — from Los Angeles to Arizona in the middle of the night to escape their situation.
He grew up in poverty and used combat sports to escape it. Now, after pouring everything into that he’s ready for another escape.
“Ultimately, I’m happy,” he said. “I’m satisfied with my career. How many people can say they’re leaving on top? Money can’t give you that.”
Triple C did offer a bit of an explanation of his at-times outlandish behavior before exiting the UFC stage.
“Everything I’ve done in the sport has always been for the best for my weight class, my division, for everybody,” he said. “I know that’s a lot. It’s very hard for people to understand that because of the crazy things that I do prior to fights, but it’s all done in the love of promotion. Even though my nickname is Triple C, my first nickname was The Messenger. I feel like I will always be The Messenger, somehow wrapped into Triple C.”
Now, he can move on with his new list of priorities.
“Can I just leave on top? Could I just leave simple answers, just leave on top?” Cejudo said. “I feel like I have a lot of traits I can give to the world, not just fighting.”