Forget vacant UFC belt – Henry Cejudo's coach wants rematch with Joseph Benavidez

Several thoughts went through Eric Albarracin’s mind when he heard the news that T.J. Dillashaw flunked a drug test.

First, he felt sorry for the now ex-champ, who voluntarily gave up his belt just two months after a failed bid at holding two titles by taking Henry Cejudo’s flyweight belt.

“My heart dropped a little bit,” the champ’s coach on Wednesday told MMA Junkie Radio.

Then Albarracin thought about the potential danger his charge was exposed to if Dillashaw (16-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) was potentially competing with a performance-enhancer in his system, and it muted his sympathy.

“Any time someone uses a performance-enhancing drug, it’s dangerous, because we’re in an already dangerous sport, where these guys are receiving head trauma and repeated blows to the head, where somebody with PEDs could seriously injure somebody,” he said.

Not only that, he thought about what might have happened if Dillashaw had won at UFC on ESPN+ 1. There’s no doubt in his mind that the flyweight division Cejudo (13-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) sought to save would now be shuttered.

“Thank god Henry Cejudo is not only ‘The Messenger,’ he’s the guardian,” Albarracin said.

Cejudo also came around to the competitive and financial repercussions of Dillashaw’s positive. Prior to the failed test, he expected there would be a rematch between the rivals at bantamweight, and Cejudo would have a chance to further cement his legacy as an all-time great by capturing Dillashaw’s belt.

With that title now vacant, Albarracin said there’s a little less shine on that achievement.

“It ruined the rematch we were looking to get, the big rivalry, the money fight, shutting the critics up,” he said. “A few people, including Dana White, thought it was an early stoppage. I didn’t think it was an early stoppage. I didn’t think it was – I was cageside and saw him go limp a couple of times.

“But we could have shut them up and get another belt, and that’s kind of out the window now.”

To be clear, Albarracin is not Cejudo’s manager, and it appears Cejudo is pushing hard to capture the vacant title. But if anyone asks him, the better move is to circle the wagons at flyweight.

“I don’t like just winning a vacant title,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I’d like to serve up some sweet revenge to Joe Benavidez. That was Henry’s last loss, so there’s a rivalry there.

“Those guys really were enemies on that show, and we ended up losing a very, very close decision. I would love to get that back, and this time, we won’t leave it to the judges.”

Benavidez recently outpointed Dustin Ortiz in a rematch for his 12th UFC win, closing the gap with ex-champ Demetrious Johnson for the most victories at flyweight. He beat Cejudo by split call after they served as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 24.”

With Dillashaw out of the picture, Albarracin said Cejudo is one of a few prominent champions that can actively sell the promotion. All it needs to do is get behind the champ. But it’s better to stay in one division for now.

To hear more from Albarracin, check out the video above.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMA Junkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio. You can also check out www.siriusxm.com/siriusxmfightnation.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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