It is being reported that United States Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo is in talks with an unnamed Japanese promoter about the possibility of debuting in MMA on New Year’s Eve.
The original plan was to have Cejudo face Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. The fight would bring a national revenge angle with it, since Cejudo beat Japan’s Tomohiro Matsunaga in the 55 kg freestyle final.
At this point Yamamoto has not fully recovered from knee surgery, so the matchup appears to be off. However, apparently negotiations are continuing.
Let’s hope that Cejudo’s debut in MMA is pushed back to a later date. He has been training some boxing while on a media tour, but that really isn’t proper preparation for an MMA fight.
It is great that Olympic level athletes want to ply their trade in MMA, but they need proper training first. There have been too many high level athletes that have gone one and done in MMA. The sport is way past the point where a one-dimensional wrestler can come in and compete at the elite level.
Norifumi Yamamoto himself proved this point on New Year’s Eve back in 2006. K-1 Hero’s trotted out Istvan Majoros, who was the 55 kg Greco-Roman gold medalist from the Athens Olympics. For a while it looked like the Hungarian might have been able to hang with Kid, but he eventually caught a knee. The fight was stopped soon after. The wrestler has not been heard from in the MMA world since.
With the proper amount of time dedicated to training, Henry Cejudo might be able to avoid Majoros’ fate. An American Olympic gold medalist could be a huge deal in MMA today, so it is important that Cejudo enter the sport with the proper preparation. By rushing into a high level fight he is only going to hurt his chances.