Henry Cejudo shocked the world in the co-main event of Saturday’s (August 4, 2018) UFC 227 pay-per-view event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California when he was able to beat Demetrious Johnson to capture the UFC flyweight title by split decision.
Johnson came into this fight looking to defend his title successfully for the 12th time in his career but that was not the case as Cejudo improved from their first meeting when he lost by first round TKO back at the UFC 197 event in August of 2016 and since that fight, Cejudo went onto pick up victories over Wilson Reis by TKO at UFC 215 and Sergio Pettis by unanimous decision at UFC 218.
At UFC 227, Cejudo earned the right to be known as the first man to beat Johnson since October 2011, which snapped Johnson’s 11 consecutive successful title defenses.
“It’s a true testimony of an underdog,” Cejudo said to MMA Fighting. “I lasted the first fight with Demetrious Johnson two minutes and 36 seconds, and I felt like it was going that way in the very first round too. Those calf kicks, really I couldn’t plant. I was forced to switch southpaw, but it actually helped me. Before all this, I said in order for me to beat Demetrious, it had to be with distance, timing, and composure. And that’s exactly how we took this fight. He got to my legs and that was okay. I wanted Demetrious to work.
“This is surreal. This is a kid who was born 10 miles away from Staples Center, the ghetto streets of South Central LA, to Mexican immigrants, to being an Olympic champion at the age of 21. My mother wasn’t able to go to the Olympics due to her citizenship status to her becoming a U.S. citizen about eight years ago, and me now, 10 years later, being an Olympic champion now carrying UFC gold — it really is a dream come true. On August 19 (2008), I became the youngest in history to ever win an Olympic gold medal (in wrestling), and on August 4, I defeated the man, the myth, the legend Demetrious Johnson. It feels super good.”
In regards to his strategy, he told the media that he knew early in the fight that he needed to force Johnson to expend energy in scrambles and take fewer hits.
“I had to deal with the cards that I was dealt with,” Cejudo said. “In those situations, I had to keep mixing and making it awkward for him, and I noticed even with Demetrious that the more you make him scramble, he gets tired. He gets tired, he’s human, and I said it before: He bleeds just like me. Tonight was my night.
“I think it was patience,” he continued when asked to elaborate further. “I think that was key, and timing, and not allowing a lot of his movement to disorient me. Because he moves a lot, he’s super hard to hit. He’s got a tiny head, like somehow it’s big from the back, but his face, it’s small. So when you fight Demetrious, it’s a small target.
“He’s unlike any other flyweight and I think that was the difference. Like, I’ve got to wait for my opportunity. I might have to get hit a couple of times to give a good hard blow and then transition to my wrestling.”
A rematch between Johnson and Cejudo makes sense but with Johnson revealing that he has some injuries, it will be interesting to see when the UFC books these two fighters once again.