Henry Cejudo's Tough Challenge to Be the Largest Mexican-American UFC Star

Michael Bacos@@MikeBacosFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2015

Michael Bacos/EXTRA Bilingual Newspapers

Despite only having two fights in the Octagon, flyweight Henry Cejudo has already made an impact on the UFC landscape.

At UFC 185, he dominated former title contender Chris Cariaso. With several high-profile Mexican Americans on the scene, such as Cain Velasquez, Anthony Pettis and Ricardo Lamas, Cejudo has a tough road to outshine them all. 

He certainly has a great backstory that lays the foundations to be a legendary Mexican-American fighter. In his book American Victory, Cejudo tells the story about how he went from being the son of parents living in the U.S. illegally to a 2008 Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medalist. The story takes him through living in poverty in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to being ranked 31st in the world and cutting 10 pounds in three hours in order to be the youngest American to win a freestyle wrestling gold medal. (h/t David Davis of the Los Angeles Times)

IOWA CITY, IA - APRIL 22:  Nick Simmons (red) wrestles Henry Cejudo (blue) in the 55 kg freestyle weight class during the challenge tournament for the finals of the US Wrestling Olympic Trials at Carver Hawkeye Arena on April 22, 2012 in Iowa City, Iowa.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The blueprint for him to go from Mexican-American gold medalist to superstar fighter has been laid out for him by "Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya, who won 10 titles in six weight classes. He truly made his mark by beating Mexican national hero, Julio Cesar Chavez, and has been in memorable bouts against Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga. De La Hoya also carved out his name by battling with legends, such as Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins. 

The road blocks for him to be a huge Mexican-American superstar are not his fault. It is the lack of talent that is in the flyweight division. Let's say Cejudo refines his game, snags a few key wins and defeats Demetrious Johnson for the title. What's next for him? 

Unlike De La Hoya, the flyweight division doesn't have fighters who equate to a Trinidad or a Mosley who will push Cejudo to the limit. The only option for him may be to move up the weight classes and defeat the top names in the bantamweight and even featherweight divisions. Or he could be a flyweight MMA version of Mike Tyson, but Cejudo has yet to demonstrate devastating knockout power.

In spite of this, Cejudo displayed some great stand-up striking abilities against Cariaso. He also took some of Cariaso's shots and showed the heart of a Mexican warrior by continuing to attack.

In two fights, Cejudo has demonstrated that he can be one of the top Mexican-American MMA fighters in the game. However, the lack of challenges at the flyweight division may hold him back to being the top Mexican-American MMA fighter.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.