UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw Preview

UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in New York.

Updated: Jan. 17, 2019 • 8:55 AM ET

Henry Cejudo is looking for his second straight massive victory.

After agreeing to a five-year partnership with the UFC last May, ESPN will air its first event in conjunction with the deal this Saturday as UFC Fight Night takes place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The event is loaded with great fights and a main event that could change the course of history, as flyweight champion Henry Cejudo will defend his belt against bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in 2019’s first super fight.

Cejudo is coming off a historic win, defeating long time champion Demetrious Johnson by split-decision to win the title at UFC 227 in August. He became only the second flyweight champion in UFC history, but he could also be the last. It’s the opinion of many that if Cejudo loses to Dillashaw, the UFC will retire the flyweight division, which is why he believes the fate of the division is in his hands.

“The flyweight division is going to be resurrected,” Cejudo said Monday on The MMA Hour. “That’s what’s going to happen Saturday night. Think about it, think about it — this is the perfect story.

“We’re fighting on the inaugural ESPN+ fight card. ESPN, at flyweight. Henry Cejudo is going to defend it, he’s going to beat T.J. Dillashaw, and then the flyweight division is getting resurrected again. I mean, this is a quinceañera, man. This is like a little wedding for me. Are you kidding me? This [division] ain’t going nowhere, man. This thing ain’t going nowhere and T.J. Dillashaw is going to be my victim, and I love it.”

Cejudo, though, went on to say that the future of the division is uncertain, even to him.

“I’ll be quite honest, I don’t know what the UFC is thinking, I don’t know how they’re thinking,” Cejudo acknowledged. “You know, sometimes when you think something is shiny and gold, it tends to be rusted and bronze, but that’s just the way it is, man. But I’m going to do mine, I’m going to fight for my division, I’m going to beat this dude up Saturday night, and the flyweight division ain’t going nowhere. That’s all I could tell you.

“They have not told me anything, but I’m going to tell them Saturday night.”

Including avenging his loss to Johnson from their first fight, Cejudo has key wins over Sergio Pettis, Wilson Reis and Jussier Formiga. He’s one of the best wrestlers in the UFC, having won gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and his wrestling was the difference in winning the title. It could also be the difference when he defends his flyweight title against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in Dillashaw.

The bantamweight champion is riding four straight wins, which includes winning the title from and defending against Cody Garbrandt. Dillashaw will move down in weight on Saturday, as he tries to become just the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold two titles at the same time, but the first to do so by moving down.

Dillashaw is arguably the greatest bantamweight of all time, as he is a two-time champion who has defeated the best in the division. His only setback was losing the title in 2016 to Dominick Cruz by a close split-decision, which many people argue he won. A rematch between Dillashaw and Cruz is certainly a fight that many MMA enthusiasts want to see.

Including two wins over Garbrandt, the 32-year-old Dillashaw has wins over John Lineker, Raphael Assuncao and Renan Barao (twice). The Californian believes he holds the advantage over Cejudo.

“He doesn’t have an advantage – I think I have the advantage everywhere,” Dillashaw said via MMAjunkie. “He’s a great athlete, awesome wrestler. But I don’t think it’s going to be enough to push him over the edge to handle my pressure – I’m going to be able to finish him.

“… I’m definitely faster. I’m carrying a little less weight around. Different-wise, is maybe how even more dedicated I had to be to camp. I’ve always been dedicated – I’ve always trained my butt off. But having to wake up and do my long-distance running in the morning, my intermittent fasting, a little bit of the calorie intake … (has made me more dedicated).”

The main event’s winner will certainly hold significant bargaining power with the UFC when it comes to booking their next fight. If Cejudo wins, he’ll have defended a belt that only one other fighter could defend and in the process defeat a fighter than many believe has become unstoppable.

If Dillashaw wins, he’ll make history and could have the option of moving back up to bantamweight, or venturing into an entirely different weight class at 145 pounds to challenge featherweight champion Max Holloway. No fighter has held three belts at the same time, or even attempted to do so.

 

The rest of the main card

Heavyweight bout - Greg Hardy vs. Allen Crowder

Lightweight bout - No. 15 Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros

Flyweight bout - No. 2 Joseph Benavidez vs. No. 8 Dustin Ortiz

Women’s flyweight bout - Paige VanZant vs. Rachel Ostovich

Light heavyweight bout - No. 12 Glover Teixeira vs. Karl Roberson

 

ESPN Prelims

Lightweight bout - No. 11 Alexander Hernandez vs. No. 13 Donald Cerrone

Women's flyweight bout - No. 10 Joanne Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski

Light heavyweight bout - Alonzo Menifield vs. Vinicius Castro

Bantamweight bout - No. 6 Cory Sandhagen vs. Mario Bautista

 

ESPN+ Early Prelims

Lightweight bout - Dennis Bermudez vs. Te Edwards

Welterweight bout - Belal Muhammad vs. Geoff Neal

Welterweight bout - Kyle Stewart vs. Chance Rencountre

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