Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight talents Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo collided for a second time last night (Aug. 4, 2018) at UFC 227 inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Johnson has been absolutely untouchable at 125 lbs. for I don’t know how many years now. He crushed the title defense record last year with a flying slam/armbar combo, and there seemed to be nothing left for Johnson, which is how talks of a super fight with Dillashaw emerged.
Injuries and contract disputes prevented that match up, but it gave Cejudo the time necessary to pick up a couple wins and show plenty of improvement. Though still a major underdog, Cejudo had a far better chance than most of the Flyweight contenders, meaning it was still a quality matchup.
Johnson opened the bout with a trio of low kicks, and one of them seemed to affect Cejudo’s lead leg within the opening minute of the round. Cejudo seemed to get his feet back under him, but he continued to absorb big kicks to all targets. From the outside, Johnson stayed out of range of Cejudo’s punches until he chose to engage, which he usually did so from a nice angle. Neither man landed all that many punches throughout the round, but Johnson repeatedly pounded the lead leg and scored some hard body and high kicks as well.
Cejudo did not seem to have an answer five minutes into the fight.
Johnson’s footwork and kicks continued to fluster the Olympian, and whenever he did choose to punch, he escaped well out of range before Cejudo could return. In response, Cejudo tried to wrestle a bit more. While he was unable to land any of his shots early on, Cejudo was able to close the distance a bit more and get closer with his punches. Later in the round, Cejudo managed to land his favorite inside trip, and he controlled top position for a decent amount of time.
The first round was a disaster, but Cejudo fared far better in the second.
Johnson upped the aggression in the third round, immediately chopping at the leg and pushing forward with punches. Cejudo returned to his inside trip, but that time Johnson kept his feet underneath him and scored some counter knees as a result. In addition, Johnson began looking to stop the level change of his opponent, feinting and leading with a knee. Cejudo fought back and landed some good punches, and he briefly landed another takedown on the champion, who showed off his world-class scrambling abilities to escape very quickly.
It was the closest round yet, but “Mighty Mouse” seemed to edge it out.
Johnson’s strategy of movement, low kicks, and occasional flurries continued to work well on the feet. However, Cejudo was able to chain together a brilliant string of takedowns to finally force Johnson to his back. He controlled much of the second half of the round, doing little damage but arguably stealing the round in the process.
The final frame could possibly decide the victor.
Despite the close nature of the fight, neither man adjusted their strategy much. It quickly became a question of whether or not Cejudo would land the takedown — and if so, when? Cejudo answered that question with two minutes remaining, managing to spin onto Johnson’s back. He nearly finished the shot from there and the follow up trip, but Cejudo could not hold Johnson down for more than a couple seconds at most.
The two finished with a wild exchange, leaving it up in the air as to who would see their hand raised.
Cejudo was awarded the split-decision victory.
The fight was so close that I have no qualms with the decision. Ultimately, Johnson was definitely the more damaging fighter across 25 minutes, but Cejudo racked up plenty of top control. Plus, in the fifth frame, when it mattered more than ever, Cejudo pushed the pace and landed some heavy shots late.
Cejudo’s physicality was impressive here. Johnson landed quite a few heavy punches and hard kicks, but Cejudo managed to walk through it all without showing many adverse effects.
Beyond that, it was all world-class wrestling.
I don’t have many criticisms for Johnson. Faced with a bigger man looking to hold him down, Johnson had to remain active without giving up takedowns. He accomplished that task for much of the fight, but Cejudo scored just enough top control and a few key moments of aggression to sway the judges. It could’ve easily gone the other way, but Johnson needed a bit more volume to really prove himself the better man.
On the bright side, Johnson deserves a rubber match if there’s any justice left in the Octagon.
Last night, Henry Cejudo upset the legendary Flyweight kingpin. Can Cejudo hold onto his crown?
For complete UFC 227: “Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE!