Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight rivals Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo will collide this Saturday (Aug. 4, 2018) at UFC 227 inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Last time Johnson walked to the cage, he emphatically broke UFC’s record for title defenses by disarming Ray Borg with absolute ease. After accomplishing that goal, many were hoping Johnson would square off with the Bantamweight champ and UFC 227 headliner T.J. Dillashaw — he’s done just about everything else there is to do other than win a super fight. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be, likely due to contract disputes about who gets paid how much. Either way, that failed negotiation created an opening for Henry Cejudo, who has looked better than ever and earned a second showdown with “Mighty Mouse.”
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Henry Cejudo (UFC 197), Joe Benavidez (UFC 152, UFC on Fox 9), John Dodson (UFC 191, UFC on Fox 6), Ian McCall (UFC on FX 3)
Key Losses: Dominick Cruz (UFC on Versus 6)
Keys to Victory: Johnson is often called the best or the most technical fighter in the history of the sport for good reason. He’s a fast and effective kickboxer, dominant wrestler, and tricky submission fighter. Worst of all, Johnson adjusts well on the fly and has the insane conditioning to break opponents even without his skill set.
Last time out, Johnson destroyed Cejudo in the clinch. He made it a Muay Thai position rather than wrestling one, and he brutalized the wrestler quickly as a result. If Cejudo tries to wrestle, Johnson will likely revert back to the strategy and find great success with it.
However, I wouldn’t advise or expect Cejudo to wrestle from close range all that often. He’s been fighting like a Karate fighter, working the outside and uncorking hard counter shots. He’s unlikely to abandon that strategy since it’s been working so well — especially since trying to wrestle Johnson went poorly last time.
Therefore, I’d like to see Johnson focus on low kicks and combinations. Cejudo’s more karate-style stance will leave him more vulnerable to low kicks, and Benavidez found good success later in their fight when he was tying together kicks and punches to keep Cejudo’s defense confused.
Key Wins: Sergio Pettis (UFC 218), Jussier Formiga (UFC Fight Night 78), Wilson Reis (UFC 215), Chris Cariaso (UFC 185)
Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC 197), Joseph Benavidez (UFC TUF 24 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Cejudo’s background as an Olympic gold medalist in Freestyle wrestling with experience in boxing are well-known. Since his loss to Johnson, however, Cejudo has relied more on his footwork and kickboxing, a strategy that has seen him land his heavy hands more frequently.
Cejudo is a more physical fighter than Johnson, and he’s perhaps the only man at 125 pounds who Johnson cannot take down with real consistency. If there’s a way to beat Johnson, it’s likely to keep it on the feet and hurt him, and Cejudo has the skills to do so better than most other contenders.
For Cejudo, the goal should be to stay all the way outside on the feet. “Mighty Mouse” is quite good from that range, but hey, he’s quite good everywhere. At distance, Cejudo doesn’t have to worry about Johnson’s brutal clinch game. Instead, he can focus on landing big punches, either with bursts or on the counter.
Cejudo has to be wary of the clinch, but that doesn’t mean he cannot occasionally wrestle. If he’s forcing Johnson to come to him, Cejudo has a fair chance at level changing and scoring a takedown. The important part here is that Cejudo uses his takedown to do damage or score points from top control, but once Johnson escapes up, he retreats back to range and sticks to his game plan.
Bottom Line: Out of the current Flyweight contenders, Cejudo has one of the best shots at dethroning the “Mouse.”
For Johnson, it’s another opportunity to dominate a credible challenger. His most recent three victories are great for records, but level of competition is definitely a big criticism of the champion. No one can argue Cejudo’s incredible credentials or strong recent performances. so defeating him a second time could maybe shut up some haters.
Probably not, but maybe.
In Cejudo’s case, this is a hugely important fight for the 31-year-old athlete. A second loss to Johnson leaves Cejudo with no clear options to move forward at 125 pounds, a bad situation the Olympian wants no part of. Meanwhile, a win earns Cejudo his gold strap, as well as pushing him into Flyweight legend as the man who finally toppled Demetrious Johnson.
At UFC 227, Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo will battle for the second time. Which man will win the rematch?