UFC Brooklyn: Flyweight champion Henry Cejudo says he’ll be the division’s savior
The UFC flyweight division has never been so hot since Henry Cejudo pissed off great and former longtime champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 227 in August to become the 125-pound champion. People loudly demanded that they trace it back to find out if Cejudo’s win was a fluke and if it was, in fact, the real deal.
But those hopes were dashed when Johnson was “swapped” for ONE Championship for Ben Askren welterweight in October.
“In my opinion, I feel like I’ve chased Demetrious out of town,” Cejudo joked to Sporting News. “He didn’t want it anymore. I sent him to ONE.”
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Cejudo (13-2), who is now defending the title in the main event of the UFC Brooklyn event on Saturday against bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw for the first time, has heard what his opponent has told everyone who listens that the UFC brought him down won the belt and wiped out the weight class for good. SN has also learned from multiple sources that the UFC is considering getting rid of the division.
All of this leads to the feeling that the fate of the division rests on Cejudo’s shoulders. And that is a challenge that Cejudo accepts.
“The world is on my back,” said Cejudo. “My division is on my back. I’m here to be the flyweight savior and I’m here to make the flyweight division great again.”
Cejudo added, “What TJ said makes me laugh and wince because it gets personal. Because then it’s not about me, it’s about my weight distribution and the future of my weight distribution.”
In assessing the situation, it’s easy to see why the UFC is considering breaking out of the division. When Johnson was the champion, the pay-per-events he headlined were some of the lowest buy rates in UFC history, and the audience ratings when “Mighty Mouse” fought Fox didn’t set the world on fire either.
31-year-old Cejudo is a very different person from Johnson. He shows more of his personality in interviews and various media appearances. In addition, Cejudo is the only fighter in UFC history to have won an Olympic gold medal and a UFC title. These testimonials scream the word superstar when marketed properly.
“I feel like I am the right person to keep this split alive,” Cejudo said. “Demetrious Johnson was the most technical mixed martial artist of all time. But I think he hasn’t done enough and shown enough personality. I think being bilingual and speaking English, Spanish and Portuguese is going to draw a lot of attention to TJ Dillashaw will only help me because he will be my next victim. “
Cejudo-Dillashaw is perhaps the biggest fight in the division’s history, considering the credentials each fighter brings. While Cejudo doesn’t deny this fact, he’s upset that so many people are counting him out.
Once the fight begins at the Octagon on Saturday night, Cejudo envisions changing the narrative entrenched in the minds of many and keeping not only his title but the jobs of his 125 pound competitors as well.
“I think people are more excited about this movie than the Demetrious one because of the fact that me and TJ’s are personalities,” says Cejudo. “But I still feel like people are counting me out even though I beat the guy who many say is the greatest of all time. And I find that completely ridiculous. People see knockouts from TJ and think they see this tough guy competitor and someone with the skills that I have. I’ll make Henry Cejudo a believer every Saturday night. You can write that in bold. “