With a knockout of two-time bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz on Saturday, Henry Cejudo once again declared himself the greatest athlete in combat sports history. 

And then he walked away for good. 

In a stunning turn of events, the 33-year-old Cejudo ended his post-fight interview inside the Octagon at UFC 249 at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, by announcing his retirement. 

“Since I was 11 years old, I sacrificed my whole life and I’m not going to let anyone take that away from me,” Cejudo said. “I want to start a family. I’m retiring tonight. Triple C is out, you guys don’t have to hear my ass no more.”

The victory added yet another legendary name to Cejudo’s UFC resume, which includes Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw and Marlon Moraes in his last three fights. The 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalist also joined Daniel Cormier as just the second fighter to hold UFC titles in multiple divisions by spoiling the comeback of Cruz (22-3) after nearly four years way from the Octagon due to injuries. 

Cejudo (16-2), in his first appearance since shoulder surgery, landed a perfect counter knee which caught Cruz flush as he ducked in and floored him. He swarmed in to land a clean punch to the ear before flurrying with unanswered punches as Cruz attempted to circle away on the ground. Referee Keith Peterson jumped in to stop the bout at 4:58 of Round 2 just as Cruz was on the verge of standing. 

“I’m not happy with the stoppage because I specifically asked the ref to let me go until I was out and I was standing up,” Cruz said. “If I was on the floor, I get it, but I was on the way up. Give me a chance. This is for a world title, this isn’t some backyard fight.”

Despite the disputed stoppage, Cejudo was fairly dominant against the former two-time champion and greatest bantamweight in MMA history. 

Cejudo controlled the opening round by patiently landing hard leg strikes which left Cruz’s lead leg bright red and slowed down his patented pace and awkward rhythm. After an accidental head clash in Round 2 caused a cut on Cejudo’s hairline in Round 2, he came alive and went for the finish. 

“I’m a chameleon, I can adjust,” Cejudo said. “You can try to study me and train for me, but at the end of the day, I have a great [team]. We stuck to the game plan and that’s all she wrote.

“I’m ruthless, I’m ruthless. I may be cringy, corny, but boy can I fight. I am the greatest combat sports athlete of all time. No one has my resume.”

Cejudo vacated his flyweight title in 2019 and knocked out Moraes last June to claim the vacant 135-pound title. Cruz, meanwhile, was unsure of his future after the loss. 

“I’m not sure,” Cruz said. “I could have done the same thing Henry was doing if I wanted to. I wanted to finish this fight. I have never been knocked out before.”

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