Henry Cejudo said a fight-week ankle injury nearly kept him out of the UFC 238 main event last weekend.
"There could have been a possibility of that," Cejudo said Monday on ESPN's Ariel Helwani's MMA Show.
Cejudo said he injured his ankle last Tuesday night in the training room at his hotel in Chicago and needed physical therapy all week to stay in the title bout. Cejudo ended up finishing Marlon Moraes in the third round via TKO to win the vacant UFC bantamweight title at United Center. Cejudo now holds UFC flyweight and bantamweight gold, the fourth UFC fighter to ever hold two belts simultaneously.
The UFC sets aside conference rooms at its fight-week hotels, putting down mats to allow fighters to train while they are on site. Cejudo said he stepped into an opening between the mats and severely twisted his left ankle.
"The mats were under some cheap tape," Cejudo said. "When I fell, I kind of stepped into the crack, between the tape and where the mats were supposed to be connected. Literally, I twisted my left ankle, Ariel. It was scary, man. It had ballooned up to maybe about the size of a grapefruit in the beginning."
During the week, Cejudo said he enlisted the help of Heather Linden, the UFC's director of physical therapy. He said he got laser therapy at night and other forms of therapy on it nearly every hour. Cejudo said he was able to walk on it, but didn't want to "test" shooting for takedowns in training during fight week.
Linden was supposed to leave Chicago for China later in the week and Cejudo asked the UFC if she could stay. He also wore ankle sleeves for the fight, which he doesn't normally do.
While there was a chance it could have been worse and he would have had to withdraw, Cejudo said he was able to gut it out. "The Messenger" said he actually had a worse ankle sprain before he beat longtime UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 227 last August.
"I was hurt, but it wasn't that much to pull out of a fight," Cejudo said of UFC 238. "With a good tape job and the therapy that I was doing, I was doing better. I was getting better every single day."
In the fight, Cejudo said he made a conscious decision to move forward and get into boxing range starting in the second round, because Moraes was kicking his legs and further injuring the ankle. Cejudo said he knew he had to make it a "dogfight."
"The fighter didn't beat Marlon Moraes," Cejudo said. "The competitor did."
Cejudo was carted to the post-fight press conference in a wheelchair after his victory Saturday night. But he said the ankle is doing better as of Monday.
With two titles now, Cejudo said his next fight is with UFC president Dana White to get paid more money.
"He's going to compensate," Cejudo said. "If not, you can have both belts. I deserve to get paid."
After that, the former Olympic wrestling champion said, he has interest in fighting Frankie Edgar if Edgar beats Max Holloway to win the UFC featherweight title at UFC 240 on July 27 in Edmonton, Alberta.
"Nothing against Frankie," Cejudo said. "I want to compete against the best, man. I know he took offense when I called him out with [Edgar's teammate] Marlon Moraes. I know he didn't believe in me. But why not? Why can't I win another belt?"