Henry Cejudo calls out Brandon Moreno for UFC 306 fight at Sphere

 Dvalishvili v Cejudo
Henry Cejudo | Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Not only is Henry Cejudo not retiring, he already has his next opponent in mind.

In a YouTube video released Monday, Cejudo called for a fight with fellow former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno that would take place at UFC 306, which is set to be hosted at Sphere in Las Vegas. Both fighters are currently on two-fight losing streaks with no clear path back to a title shot, so Cejudo is drawing upon their shared history to hype up a potential grudge match.

“What fight would be better than ‘Triple C,’ the Mexican-American, vs. the true Mexican and they come together and they do a five-round showdown at the Sphere in Las Vegas for Mexican Independence Day,” Cejudo said. “I like it. If there’s any way that we should settle it, enough talking, enough cringe, and enough antics, and enough all of that, the only way to get it on Brandon Moreno is I accept your challenge. Let’s do it Mexican Independence Day, what you got? You sign that contract, are you a Mexican or a ‘Mexi-can’t.’”

“I think we should settle it,” he continued. “I think it’s time to settle it. ... I think the storyline’s there, I think the history’s there, I think you have two former champions that have lost and that are now coming together to put on one of the greatest showdowns in UFC history. I’m just waiting for the call. Brandon Moreno, I’m going to finish this again. I want to fight you, I want to hurt you. I think we owe it to each other, I think we owe it to the fans. This is too good for this to not take place.”

Cejudo added that he would prefer the fight take place at bantamweight, but would be open to a flyweight bout if the price was right.

The relationship between Cejudo and Moreno has seen several ups and downs, with the two first training together nearly a decade ago. Moreno was part of Cejudo’s team ahead of the Olympic gold medalist’s first fight with then-champion Demetrious Johnson and they worked together frequently in the years following. However, a rift formed when Cejudo served as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 24 opposite Joseph Benavidez, who ended up having Moreno on his team of flyweight fighters.

That led to Moreno and Benavidez training together for Benavidez’s December 2016 fight against Cejudo. Benavidez went on to defeat Cejudo via split decision and the whole situation rubbed Cejudo the wrong way.

“I discovered that the dude had been training in Denver, Colorado, with Joseph Benavidez and Team Alpha Male or team whatever to help Joseph Benavidez to beat me,” Cejudo said. “I was a guy who opened up my home, not just for [Moreno] but also for his family. I was a guy that was able to corner him too for his last five fights prior to him jumping into the UFC. Talk about a close relationship, so I think once I saw that I’m just like, damn, I get it.”

Cejudo said that he and Moreno were then booked to fight in the main event of a Mexico City card in 2017, but Moreno wasn’t interested.

“I said, ‘Hey man, let’s fight, dude,’” Cejudo said. “‘I think the only way that we’re both going to be able to respect each other once again is if we’re able to fight, if we’re able to kind of put these politics aside.’ Me, I felt like as an older bother, because we did become tight, I wanted to kind of beat him up. I kind of wanted to beat up my little brother for a little bit and it still didn’t mean that I didn’t have that love for him, but I’ll never forget it, because this is kind of where it stopped. This is kind of where I let that s*** go. ... I just told him, ‘Let’s fight.’

“I’ll never forget what he told me, because he said, ‘Henry, te quiero mucho para pelar contigo. I’ve got too much love to fight you.’ And when he told me, I kind of understood, because it’s like, you helped me train for this guy. We did a lot of things together. We go to practice, we come home beat up with black eyes and still be friends and be acting like normal beings. Once that happened, I was just like, alright, it’s game over.”

The fight would not only be a major addition to the UFC 306 card, it could prove to be a pivotal one for Cejudo and Moreno at this stage of their careers.

Cejudo has lost two straight since ending a three-year hiatus from competition, dropping a close split decision loss to Aljamain Sterling in a bantamweight title fight and then losing to Merab Dvalishvili. Moreno is coming off of back-to-black split decision losses to Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval, the former of which ended his second flyweight title reign.

Given their recent struggles, Cejudo thinks it just makes sense for he and Moreno to test each other.

“He didn’t look like the same Brandon,” Cejudo said of Moreno’s loss to Royval at UFC Mexico City. “It was almost like my fight with Merab, we just didn’t look the same. I think if there’s one thing that me and Brandon Moreno have in common it’s that we both looked like s*** on this Saturday and the last one that just took place with myself.”