Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo is scheduled to make his octagon debut at UFC 177 later this month, but prior to signing with the world’s premier MMA organization, he had the option of taking his career down a very different path.
In a move that could have effectively ended his MMA career, Cejudo, who became the youngest Olympic wrestling champion in U.S. history when he took gold in 2008, said earlier this year he was in the primary stages of putting together a professional wrestling deal with WWE.
“It was something that was actually in the works,” Cejudo told MMAjunkie. “One of their talent scouts saw me, met me and wanted to bring me in for an audition or whatnot. … They had reached out to me and wanted to get a feel of it.”
If Cejudo had chosen to make the jump to WWE, he wouldn’t have been the first Olympic gold medalist to do so. Kurt Angle, who won the gold medal in heavyweight freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Olympics, has made a successful career in pro wrestling, though a planned move into MMA never materialized.
Cejudo, 27, said he’s followed pro wrestling since he was a kid and admits he’s somewhat intrigued by the opportunity. However, his ultimate focus, for now at least, remains on making a successful run in the UFC.
“I’ve always watched WWE ever since I was a little kid,” Cejudo said. “But mixed martial arts right now is my No. 1 priority. Maybe WWE in the future, but as of now I’m sticking straight to the UFC and my fighting career.
“It might be worth trying it out some day, but as of right now, I solely train and think about mixed martial arts.”
Cejudo (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who’ previously struggled with his weight to make the 125-pound flyweight division, most recently fought at Legacy FC 27 in January, where he defeated Elias Garcia by unanimous decision. He meets Scott Jorgensen (15-9 MMA, 4-5 UFC) on the FOX Sports 1-televised preliminary card of UFC 177, which takes place Aug. 30 prior to the pay-per-view main card at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena.
For more on UFC 177, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.