UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo made a extremely profitable transition from wrestling to combined martial arts.

Cejudo’s accolades in each sports activities are nicely documented. Eight years earlier than he turned a UFC champ, Cejudo (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) gained a gold medal in freestyle wrestling on the 2008 summer season Olympics.

Understanding a factor or two about making the bounce from wrestling to MMA, Cejudo was requested at Thursday’s UFC 249 digital media day whom he thinks would be the subsequent star to cross over into the cage. After some deep thought, Cejudo got here up with a reputation: Zahid Valencia of Arizona State College.

“I consider any wrestler that decides to make that transition and decides to take their time with the game is a menace to not be messing with,” Cejudo mentioned. “If I used to be to select one man, moreover the nice Kyle Snyder, I’d say Zahid Valencia from Arizona State. He expressed curiosity within the sport, and I consider he talked about it.

“I consider if he will get into the game of combined martial arts … he’s a two-time NCAA champ who was going for his third earlier than this entire coronavirus. I feel on the welterweight division, with time, he’d be a very onerous dude to beat.”

Valencia, 22, is at the moment serving an indefinite suspension for a drug check failure stemming from a Jan. 18 pattern assortment. Previous to suspension, Valencia had gained two NCAA championships at 174 kilos. He additionally was ranked the No. 1 wrestler within the nation at 184 kilos. No specifics concerning the drug check have been launched to the general public, neither is it recognized if or when Valencia might be reinstated to the Arizona State workforce.

On Saturday, Cejudo will tackle Dominick Cruz (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) within the co-main occasion of UFC 249. The occasion takes place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Area in Jacksonville, Fla. The principle card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.