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UFC flyweight champ Henry Cejudo vacates title

Updated December 20, 2019 - 8:11 pm

Deiveson Figueiredo will fight Las Vegan Joseph Benavidez for the UFC flyweight title on Feb. 29 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Neither fighter currently holds that belt.

As part of the fight announcement for the main event of UFC Fight Night 169, flyweight champion Henry Cejudo has agreed to relinquish the 125-pound title.

Cejudo made clear it was his decision to focus on defending the 135-pound bantamweight title he also holds after initial reports the UFC had stripped one of his belts.

“I am not being stripped,” Cejudo told USA Today in a statement he later posted on his social media accounts. “I am relinquishing my title. … ‘Triple C’ is relinquishing his title to these wannabe, so-called flyweight kingpins.That’s what’s going on. I’m relinquishing my belt. Being stripped is not what I’m doing. I’m relinquishing, and you can tell them all to bend the knee.”

UFC Fight Night 169, which will stream on ESPN Plus, also features a welterweight bout between Alex Oliveira and Mickey Gall.

Cejudo adopted the Triple-C moniker after adding the two championship belts to his Olympic wrestling gold medal.

He is recovering from a shoulder injury and does not yet have a bantamweight title bout booked.

Cejudo moved up to win the 135-pound belt in June. He has not defended the flyweight title since January.

Benavidez is one of the most accomplished UFC fighters never to hold the belt. He is 13-3 since dropping to flyweight, with two title-bout losses to Demetrious Johnson, including one by split decision. The third loss was a split-decision defeat against Sergio Pettis.

He grew tired of waiting for his next opportunity, calling on the champion to stop holding up the division after Cejudo hinted at fighting either Jose Aldo or even moving up to take a shot at the 145-pound featherweight belt.

“It’s obvious you don’t want to fight me and have no interest of going back down to flyweight,” Benavidez posted on Twitter last week of Cejudo. “Just stop stringing (expletive) along with the company and the division. I’m ready to Fight!”

Cejudo dropped a split-decision to Benavidez in a top contender bout back in 2016.

Figueiredo is 6-1 in the UFC, including two straight wins. He is coming off a first-round submission victory over Tim Elliott in October.

Broken hand for new champ

Alexander Volkanovski’s first title defense might have to wait.

The 31-year-old Australian suffered a broken hand during his UFC 245 featherweight title win over Max Holloway in Las Vegas last week. He underwent surgery on Friday.

There is no timetable for his return to action.

PPV price goes up

The new year will mark a new price point for ordering UFC pay per views.

ESPN Plus, the exclusive distributor of the events, announced a return to a $64.99 charge to order pay-per-view cards through the service. The carrier dropped the cost to $59.99 throughout most of 2019 after acquiring the exclusive rights.

“This price change represents a return to the price that UFC fans traditionally paid, prior to ESPN Plus decreasing the PPV price for most of 2019,” an ESPN rep told Variety.

Customers ordering the pay per views must also be subscribers to ESPN-Plus.

The decision coincides with the return of Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 246 on Jan. 18 at T-Mobile Arena.

Whittaker to Las Vegas

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will look to bounce back from his title loss with a fight in Las Vegas.

Whittaker will face Jared Cannonier on the UFC 248 card at T-Mobile Arena on March 7, sources close to the organization confirmed Thursday. Cannonier has knocked out three straight opponents, including a second-round stoppage of Jack Hermansson in September. The run includes a win over former champ Anderson Silva in May.

Whittaker had a nine-fight winning streak snapped and lost his belt when he was knocked out by rising star Israel Adesanya in October.

The 28-year-old Australian first won the interim belt when he earned a decision over Yoel Romero in July 2017, the last time he fought in Las Vegas.

The UFC has not announced a main event for the card, which features a women’s strawweight title bout between champion Weili Zhang and former champ Joanna Jedrzejcyk.

Neil Magny is also expected to face Li Jingliang in a welterweight bout.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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