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Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo To Make MMA Debut Next Saturday

Cejudo on Inside MMA talking about his upcoming MMA debut.

With the future of Olympic wrestling up in the air, it isn’t necessarily a surprise to learn that some Olympic hopefuls are giving MMA a shot. Earlier this week, it was announced that Henry Cejudo, the youngest American wrestler to win an Olympic gold medal, is preparing to make his MMA debut in March.

The twenty-six year old wrestler failed to make the Olympic team in 2012, but has had a very decorated amateur wrestling career, including an Olympic gold medal at 55 kg (121 lbs) in 2008. This doesn’t mean that Cejudo is completely one-dimensional, however. He also has over three years of amateur boxing experience, which includes winning a Copper Gloves tournament in 2010.


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(Now it can be told: Vitor Belfort caught this gash in sparring ten days before his fight against Michael Bisping. It needed 20 stitches. Props to reddit_mma for the tip.)

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Video: 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo Returns to Competition in New York City

At 21 years old, Henry Cejudo became the youngest American to win a gold medal in Olympic wrestling, when he swept through the 55kg freestyle field at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. When he returned home, Cejudo began to immerse himself in boxing training, winning tournaments in Arizona and training with Freddie Roach. Before long, Bellator approached him with an offer to join their Season Three bantamweight tournament. “I was close enough to signing with Bellator that they faxed the papers over and I was ready to sign them,” Cejudo said. “I thought about it for a day and during that time I got a call from USA wrestling about me coming back. I had a decision to make, and I think I just see myself with another gold medal and maybe doing MMA afterward.”

Cejudo now plans to compete at the 2012 Games in London. His comeback began yesterday evening at the “USA vs. Russia”-themed Beat the Streets 2011 Gala in New York City’s Times Square, where he competed in wrestling for the first time since Beijing. Cejudo faced Junior World bronze medalist Rasul Mashezov and won 2-0, 4-3. The American team beat the Russians 5-2 overall, aided by wins from 2010 U.S. Open champion Jordan Burroughs and 2009 World bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev.


WEC to Add Even Smaller Men to Its Roster

Shooto MMA Japan Yamaguchi Kojima
(Mamoru Yamaguchi and Shinichi Kojima: America is not ready.)

With their middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions officially closed down, the WEC is planning to add a new division to further differentiate themselves from their big brothers in the UFC. No, not women (at least not yet). According to MMA Weekly, you’ll soon be seeing 125-pound flyweights battling under the WEC banner: sources on Tuesday revealed that the WEC is adding a 125-pound flyweight division. With WEC 38 in San Diego just three weeks away, no 125-pound bouts are expected for that fight card. The promotion’s next event, likely in March, is a more apt candidate to host the WEC’s new commitment to flyweight fighters.

Quick, name three flyweight fighters. If you can do it, you’re probably a die-hard Shooto fan, since that’s where most of the top 125-pounders compete. And you can be sure that the WEC will be poaching a lot of talent from the Japanese organization. But Bloody Elbow believes that the WEC will be building their new division around Henry Cejudo, the 21-year-old American freestyle wrestler who won a gold medal in Beijing last summer competing at 121 pounds. Cejudo has been training at a boxing gym in his hometown of Phoenix, and was briefly rumored as an opponent for Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto at Fields Dynamite!! 2008. The upside with Cejudo is that he’s already something of a national hero, and can actually speak English — and therefore would be a lot easier to market than some of the other flyweight talent the WEC might bring aboard.

No matchups for the WEC’s March event have been officially announced, though a welterweight title fight between Carlos Condit and Brock Larson has been rumored.