Kurt Angle has been a tidal wave since coming over to WWE. The wrestler won Olympic gold in the 100kg division in Atlanta ’96 and two years later, he’d join WWF. Angle went on to become one of Vince McMahon’s most popular wrestlers, with his “never quit” attitude and the obvious “you suck” chants growing into quite a phenomenon. He’s been one of the most organic athletes in the business to weave in between heel and face without missing a beat.
Angle’s held numerous world titles and is a WWE Grand Slam Champion which means he’s won all there is to win as well. It’s why fans were disappointed he was brought back after a TNA stint and then let go during the COVID-19 staff cuts. No matter what, though, from all his epic rivalries, he’s quite the institution. However, WWE now has the opportunity to pick up the next Angle thanks to UFC losing a double champion in Henry Cejudo.
Fans were shocked on Saturday night at UFC 249 in Florida when Cejudo announced his retirement from the sport right after beating Dominick Cruz via TKO in Round 2. He held the Bantamweight Championship and was also the last person to hold the Flyweight title, putting him in the elite club known as “champ-champs.” In Cejudo’s case, he actually considers himself a triple champ as he won Olympic gold in the 55kg division in 2008 in Beijing. Five years later, he’d become an MMA professional, make it to the UFC in 2014 and rack up a disciplined 16-2 record.
If Angle can make the transition, so can Cejudo because he’s just as disciplined and is the definition of a workhorse. However, given the Ronda Rousey experiment that failed, WWE may be better off working a short program with someone who truly loves wrestling and isn’t a combatant for fame. It would also benefit Cejudo who’s looking to become a family man. Interestingly, fans think he’s using this retirement to convince Dana White to up his UFC contract because with fighters such as Jose Aldo, Petr Yan and Alex Volkanovski, he still really hasn’t cleared out his divisions. And Cejudo has said if the price is right, he will come back.
This is where McMahon can step up once the funds allow it. If Cejudo works a program, it would allow him to beef up his spotlight some more and produce a version of Angle for modern fans. He’s slick on the mic and has a cocky disposition but he can back it up. The extra attention would be nice for his career. Cejudo’s grappling skills are immense, as are his takedown abilities and defense, so he really has all the attributes Angle had in his time.
Granted, Angle was 30 so he had three years on Cejudo when he joined McMahon’s vision, but still, Cejudo has that dedication to learn. And this is why shorter programs or even a one-off works best for both parties. Cejudo’s the hot talk of the MMA world after dominating these divisions in recent years and working with WWE could only help both brands. It would also keep White interested and once more, fans would get cross-promotion between both companies. It’d convince the UFC head honcho to maybe to raise an offer, all while WWE gets to use a hot UFC star in his prime in the meantime. It’s way better than working with someone who retired in old age or got beat out the sport as Rousey did.
WWE has a massive opportunity to poach the next Kurt Angle thanks to a loss Dana White suffered across two divisions at UFC 249.