A lot of fighters these days make us cringe when they try and promote themselves. Some fighters are bad guys but they act nice. Some guys are nice guys that act nasty, and some people are just incorrigibly uncool. Henry Cejudo was probably a nice guy his entire career, but his promos were insufferable. That is exactly what he was going for though. Henry Cejudo set off on a journey to get noticed and be paid what he was worth. He never got there, so he retired.
At his final press conference, he admitted that he was chasing big names to cement his career. While young, unproven, top contenders were still available, he admitted that he avoided them. At the same time he slightingly justified it by saying it was because they have no wins worth remembering. Cejudo never suggested that those contenders could never be considered great however. Before he left, he made sure to suggest a tournament between top contenders to determine the division’s next champion. This must materialize.
A post shared by Henry Cejudo (@henry_cejudo) on May 11, 2020 at 12:20pm PDT
The Bantamweight division is talented, and the top contenders deserve a shot, but they need more exposure. No one really knows the top contenders’ names, and the best way to promote them in with a Grand Prix.
Champions Fight For Prizes
The Bantamweight Grand Prix will obviously end with a belt, but why not give these guys an additional prize as well. The most interesting thing about a Grand Prix is the contestants, especially if the champion enters the tournament their self. Cejudo just defended his title, but given his shallow legacy I would put him as the first entry into an eight-man tournament.
A post shared by Henry Cejudo (@henry_cejudo) on May 10, 2020 at 2:04am PDT
Great news fight fans, it looks like Cejudo will return before the summer’s end. His manager Ali spilled the beans and the bantamweight division has been given life again.
Grand Prix Bracket
Here’s how the bracket will look. Aljamain Sterling, Cory Sandhagen, Petr Yan, Marlon Moraes, Henry Cejudo, Raphael Assuncao, Jose Aldo, and Pedro Munhoz. There of course has to be balance in the bracket. You can’t have one side with all of the fighters on the longest win streak(s) on one side. This could be much more exciting than any of the plans the UFC has for these fighters now.
Beneath all of the antics, Cejudo understands that this work is both sports and entertainment. There aren’t too many better ways to get fans to pay attention to lighter weight classes. Every division isn’t as lucky as lightweight to have the face of the sport competing in their weight class.
A post shared by Henry Cejudo (@henry_cejudo) on Apr 30, 2020 at 6:45pm PDT
Considering the direction this sport is going in a tournament would be all the rage. Just think about it. A tournament of unarmed combat organized by an aggressive overseer in Dana White. Oh, and it’s on a remote island that no one knows the location of. Then on top of all that, it’s televised in a silent stadium and you can hear every shot the fighters land on each other. You can hear the corners’ instruction, you can even hear the fighters breathing on each other, you can hear every slam takedown.
On the left side of the bracket there is Henry Cejudo vs Raphael Assuncao and Petr Yan vs Marlon Moraes. That whole left side is fireworks! On the right there will be Jose Aldo vs Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen vs Pedro Munhoz. If you wouldn’t watch that tournament check your pulse, something is wrong.
What Are 135ers Fighting For
The UFC must help the fans understand what the fighters are all competing for. I know Monster started giving champions chains and title challengers are getting jewelry now. That’s great, really it is. But as much as the UFC loves to talk about how much money they pay out, here is a chance for them to stunt and show that they really take care of their guys. The belt is great, chains are great, but can we cut these guys a million dollar pay day? I know some people will push back on that numbers and say the fighters aren’t popular enough, save it.
A post shared by Dana White (@danawhite) on Apr 28, 2020 at 4:26pm PDT
If Bellator and the PFL can cut a million to a champion, so can the UFC. That’s the way to handle this, that’s the way to promote talent like this. We don’t need reality TV to promote top ranked contenders. All the public needs are promos and prizes so they can see who’s the best and then see them really win something of value. This is prize-fighting, fans want to see champions with money and status.
Whether they actually have money or not is irrelevant, just make it look like they do. Make it look like they are fighting for something big. If the UFC can’t pull this off, what are promotions good for? Henry Cejudo is a cringe Olympian for heaven’s sake, get this man some exposure. Very few things sell in America more than a rah rah rah, American hero identity in sports. What’s more American than an Olympic Gold Medalist. Americans value winning over everything.■