Five months ago, Henry Cejudo shocked longtime champion Demetrious Johnson to win the UFC flyweight title, ending that man’s six year long reign as champion. It will go down as one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
I guess Henry got a taste for it.
In the main event for the first show of the UFC’s five year deal with ESPN, the reigning flyweight world champion shocked the world, this time knocking out UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in just thirty-two seconds to retain the flyweight title. It was a shocking statement for a man who all of the sudden looks like one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world.
After his two knockout wins over rival Cody Garbrandt, many were touting Dillashaw was one of the greatest fighters of all time, regardless of weight class. His moving down ten pounds to annex the flyweight title and became only the fourth “Champ Champ” in UFC history was seen a historic, brazen move, and he got much of the attention coming into the fight.
But the former Olympic Gold Medalist caught Dillashaw with a right hand behind the ear just eighteen seconds into the fight. Cejudo jumped on Dillashaw with ground and pound, using the seatbelt position to gain leverage. Dillashaw tried to grab Cejudo’s leg, but “The Messenger” allowed the bantamweight champ just enough room to get up and nailed with a left hook followed by a short right, dropping him again. Another heaping of ground and pound and referee Mark Goddard stopped the fight.
Cejudo (14-2, 8-2 UFC) has been steadily improving his striking over the last two years, but no one believed that he would outstrike Dillashaw, seen by some as the best striker in the UFC. But Dillashaw (16-4, 12-4 UFC) looked gaunt and lifeless before weigh ins the day before and it seems clear that the weight cut was just too much for him. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but the way Dillashaw behaved in protesting the loss in both the cage and the press conference afterwards sure is.
Meanwhile, Cejudo didn’t just retain his title-he may have saved the flyweight division. If Dillashaw won the title, the speculation was that the UFC would close the entire division. But with Cejudo’s victory and the recent great fights in the division, the entire 125 weight class looks to fight another day.
Cejudo called for a rematch for the bantamweight title and its real hard not to argue with the logic. Dillashaw looks to deal with the winner of the rematch between Rafael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes in two weeks in Brazil, but with that fight in the future, Dillashaw versus Cejudo 2 for the 135 title makes a lot of sense. Dillashaw wants a rematch at 125, but there is no way that he should be allowed to cut that kind of weight again.
It was an incredible way to cap off what was an unforgettable night for the promotion, and we can all hope this is sign for UFC main events on ESPN for years to come.