Henry Cejudo, Eric Albarracin appear to reunite, admit UFC 298 firing a prank

It looks like Henry Cejudo didn’t actually fire his longtime coach, Eric Albarracin, before UFC 298.

The former two-division champ on Tuesday appeared to confirm what many suspected all along – his public firing of Albarracin was just a prank before a pivotal fight with Merab Dvalishvili on Saturday.

“Bill Bellicheck, Tom Brady, Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, c’mon, you think they would ever break up? C’mon, man,” Albarracin told a crowd on an Instagram video posted by Cejudo.

On the UFC 298 Countdown show, Cejudo had fans and MMA observers cringing as he appeared to can Albarracin before his fight with Merab Dvalishvili on Saturday in Anaheim, Calif.

“You were with me from my last Olympic trials, you’ve been there for me,” Cejudo told Albarracin. “But, as of right now, I just want to let you know that for this camp, dude, I’m getting rid of specific coaches, man. That’s you included, dude.”

“The goal has always been the same,” Albarracin said. “For you to be the greatest combat sports athlete of all time. And to me, that was a dream come true.”

There was great debate over the authenticity of the firing. UFC 298 headliner Alexander Volkanovski said if it was real, the ex-UFC champ was “a piece of s***,” he told The Mac Life. MMA coach Ray Longo called it a “piece of s*** scumbag move” by Cejudo. Welterweight veteran Matt Brown questioned why it had to be done in public.

Now, it appears the move was one in another long line of engagement plays for Cejudo, who at UFC 288 failed in a bid to recapture the UFC bantamweight title after three years of retirement.

After burying the hatchet, Cejudo left Albarracin hanging with a high five and a bro hug. But he gave “Captain Eric” a pile of branded Cejudo gear.

“Just so you guys know, this is the greatest combat coach of all time,” Cejudo declared. “This is an unbreakable bond.”

“Let’s go, UFC 298, we’re taking over,” Albarracin added. “I’m going to be sitting, drinking Team Secret Juice, [in the] front row, watching Cejudo take out Merab Dvalishvili, and stamp another title shot, become C4 [win four UFC titles].”

It’s unclear whether Albarracin’s front row seat includes a coaching role on Saturday night. But at least on camera, he appears to be back in Cejudo’s good graces. And Cejudo, as always, had fun messing with his audience.

“Got ‘em!” Cejudo told the crowd.

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