The former two-division champion, Cejudo, retired in 2020 with a win over Dominick Cruz. But, to few people’s surprise, it was the very next year that the 35-year-old began teasing a UFC comeback on social media.
Since then, the ‘King of Cringe’ has been campaigning for a big money fight, and has taken aim at athletes across several divisions including Aljamain Sterling, Sean O’Malley, and ‘Don’t Blink’s own teammate, Alexander Volkanovski.
Many thought Triple C’s posturing was simply an effort to remain in the spotlight; that was until he was re-entered into the USADA testing pool earlier this year, suggesting his efforts are genuine. Despite the optics, Kara France still isn’t convinced.
“He just talks to stay relevant,” the 29-year-old told The AllStar.”That’s the thing about him. He’s at every fight – he’s not in the gym training. Yeah, he’s coaching, but he’s not training himself.
“I just feel like he does it to stay relevant, so I don’t really take too much notice of it. It’s just noise to me. Until I see him actually book a fight and then commit to it, then I’ll take it seriously.”
The Kiwi did offer a word of warning to the Olympic gold medalist though, should he be vying to make a legitimate comeback: ‘stick to coaching.’
“He’s done well for himself, but the thing about this sport – you gotta stay in it, and if you retire, you get left behind. You can’t come back.”
Kara France, still being in the thick of a tough flyweight division, believes he has a grasp on how far mixed martial arts has come in Cejudo’s short absence – and in his opinion, the sport’s passed the veteran by.
“Look what happens to guys that leave the sport and then a few years later say ‘oh nah, I’m still in it, I still wanna do this’ – you see the evolution of the sport’s happening so quickly that whatever got them to the top is not gonna work anymore. So maybe he should just stick to coaching.”
Presented with the prospect of facing his former TUF coach inside the Octagon as a sort of ‘full-circle’ moment, Kara France was dubious of the idea but admitted it’s a fight he’d be genuinely interested in.
“This guy ain’t making flyweight any time soon. He’s massive at the moment. He’s massive and he’s a dad.”
“It’s one thing I would love to do, fight a guy that was my coach on The Ultimate Fighter, and when I’m the champion welcome him back. This is a great storyline, and it’s someone that I’d love to fight, you know, I’d love to compete against Henry Cejudo. But yeah, we’ll see what happens.”