clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Brian Stann believes Henry Cejudo has a 'very good shot' at beating Demetrious Johnson

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If Holly Holm proved anything - or, at least, reminded everyone of it - there's no such thing as the unbeatable person. Betting odds are not fortune telling. Everyone can be defeated, even dominant champions.

After Saturday's win over Jussier Formiga at UFC Fight Night 78, Henry Cejudo inched closer to a showdown with flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. Realistically, though, does Cejudo - who has won, but not dominated - really stand a chance?

UFC commentator Brian Stann did not offer a prediction should a Johnson vs. Cejudo fight take place, but in the wake of Holm's shocking upset, was quick to note Cejudo's upset potential.

"Yes, [Cejudo] should and I actually give him a very good shot," Stann told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "Here's why.

"From what I know about Henry Cejudo, he is a guy - he's proven this on one of the biggest if not the biggest stage - 2008, he wasn't supposed to win that tournament," Stann said, referencing the gold medal Cejudo won at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at 55kg in men's freestyle wrestling. "He wasn't supposed to win gold. And when you talk to people close to that situation, he had the tournament of his life.

"He is an athlete that I think rises to his competition and does what he needs to win in competition, according to that athlete. So, I think when he fights Demetrious Johnson, it will be a better fight than people think it will," Stann argued.

Does this mean Stann necessarily favors Cejudo or believes the Olympic champion to be on par with the UFC champion? No, Stann admitted, but he also was quick to cite the unpredictability in terms of upside for top-tier athletes.

"Is he on the level of Demetrious Johnson right now? No. He's not, but he can be," he explained. "Just like Holly Holm showed, you never know what kind of jump these special athletes can make when the lights shine brightest. Holly has proven to be an athlete several times in her career who shines brightest when the stage is the largest and Henry Cejudo has done the same. He's an exceptional athlete."

For Stann, Cejudo's athleticism is already there. His technical development is a work in progress, but he is already good enough to put him at the top of the division. What could be a factor, however, is the ability to execute a work rate to match Johnson. Stann argued Cejudo hasn't unlocked his potential yet because he probably hasn't had to. If he can make those adjustments, however, the possibilities are intriguing.

"My good friend who you've come to know well, George Lockhart, said it best because he talked to Henry a little bit after his weight cut to give him some advice because Henry's weight cut - that process - is terrible. And he explained it like this: Henry's always been the guy that runs the mile the fastest even though his process to get to weight to run that mile is not good, he's never had to change it. He could eat what he wants, he could be undisciplined because he still has the fastest mile time. What he doesn't understand is how much faster he'd run that mile if he would improve his process and make it better.

"He had said after he had George do his reload after he cut the weight, 'This is the best I've ever felt after cutting the weight this fast. I need to use you my whole camp.' We'll see if he does that."

Already, Stann noted, Cejudo's performance was strong. A fix in the weight cut may not be enough to help Cejudo defeat Johnson, but the curiosity of it all is impossible to ignore. As it stands, Cejudo's cut is reportedly excruciating and he's still performing at a top level. Take away the hefty tax Cejudo's body pays and the increased upside is obvious.

"It could give him an edge," Stann said. "He wasn't tired in that three rounds for a guy who had a miserable, miserable weight cut."