UFC 227 Recap: Dillashaw Silences Garbrandt Feud, Cejudo Makes History

UFC 227 Recap: TJ Dillashaw Silences Garbrandt Feud, Cejudo Makes History

At a wild UFC 227 event this past Saturday in Los Angeles, the co-main and main events didn’t disappoint.

Updated: Aug. 5, 2018 • 3:05 PM ET

Los Angeles hosted an exciting UFC 227 card on Saturday.

At UFC 227 on Saturday in the Staples Center, bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw retained his title, while an Olympic gold medal winning flyweight earned his first UFC belt in historic fashion.

Dillashaw defeated heated rival Cody Garbrandt by first-round TKO, cementing his status as the best bantamweight in the world. The fight began much like their first encounter at UFC 217, but Garbrandt came out throwing more low- and high-kicks than the first time around.

The change in Garbrandt’s approach forced Dillashaw to be a bit more patient and choose his angles wisely. They exchanged blows in the pocket with both landing hard shots, but Dillashaw got the better of the exchanges, again, in the end.

What Dillashaw has done is expose holes in Garbrandt’s pocket striking, ultimately because of his tremendous speed and precision. With the win, the bantamweight champ has separated himself from the rest of the division, but there’s still possibly a rubber match with former champion and No. 2 ranked Dominick Cruz.

Before his loss to Cruz in 2016, Dillashaw was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He has made a triumphant return to that list, but who he’ll face next remains to be seen.

The winner of Saturday’s co-main event wants to have a say in that.

Demetrious Johnson entered Saturday’s co-main event with Henry Cejudo having defended his title 11 times. Johnson, the first and only flyweight champion in UFC history, had already defeated Cejudo in 2016 and is widely considered the best fighter of all time. All of these things would make one assume that to take the belt from him, a challenger would have to actually beat him, meaning knock him out, submit him or land an overwhelmingly larger number of strikes, leaving no doubt in the judges’ minds.

Yet, Cejudo made history on Saturday by defeating Johnson via a split decision, shocking everyone, including himself, judging by how he and his team reacted in the Octagon after announcer Bruce Buffer communicated the decision. Cejudo managed to secure three takedowns that led to no damage, while landing thirty fewer strikes than Johnson in the fight, but it was enough in the judges’ minds to crown a new champion.

Cejudo has significantly progressed since his first fight with Johnson, and it was clear he was a different fighter than the guy who Johnson TKO’d in 2016. He was aggressive and pushed forward the entire fight, absorbing multiple body kicks from Johnson in the process. The 31-year-old Cejudo also proved he has a dangerous array of skills to complement his world-class wrestling, and he has now been crowned just the second flyweight champion in UFC history.

The loss was Johnson’s first since 2011 and represents a new era in the flyweight division (at least for now). It certainly changes the complexion of the division’s rankings, and it would be interesting to see Cejudo defend the belt against someone other than Johnson, which for now seems to be the direction the UFC will go.

Johnson has been humble in victory, and fans finally got to see how he would react in defeat. After Saturday’s fight, he was as humble as ever. His positive attitude about fighting and approach to life should be admired worldwide.

In the Octagon after his victory, Cejudo said he wanted to fight the winner of Dillashaw and Garbrandt, a fight that many assumed Johnson would get if he claimed victory on Saturday. Cejudo also said he wants to move up in weight and challenge for the bantamweight title to attempt to become just the third fighter to hold belts in two divisions at the same time. He’s a big flyweight, so it would be interesting to see how he would look without having to cut the extra weight.

Johnson deserves an immediate rematch, but there doesn’t seem to be any urgency from him or the UFC to make that happen. It’s certainly early to assume that Johnson and Cejudo won’t run it back, but the idea of the flyweight champion and the bantamweight champion clashing could be a money fight for the organization.

The ultimate storyline for Johnson would be facing the winner of that fight and getting back his title in even more dramatic fashion.

 


The rest of the main card

Featherweight fight - No. 10 Renato Moicano defeated No. Cub Swanson by first-round submission

Strawweight fight - JJ Aldrich defeated Polyana Viana by unanimous decision

Middleweight fight - No. 13 Thiago Santos defeated Kevin Holland by unanimous decision

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