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Henry Cejudo calls decision loss to Joseph Benavidez a ‘complete robbery’

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MMA: TUF Tournament of Champions-Benavidez vs Cejudo Tracy Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Robbed. That’s how Henry Cejudo felt following his fight with Joseph Benavidez at last Saturday’s The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale.

In a thrilling fight with non-stop action, Cejudo put on one of the best performances of his entire MMA career against Benavidez, but ultimately ended up losing a split decision to the division’s top contender. On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Cejudo went on to talk about his controversial loss against Benavidez.

“Yeah, I’ve watched it,” Cejudo told Ariel Helwani. “I don’t necessarily like to talk about the fights after I get done because... I think something that has separated me from the rest of the competition, maybe it’s just my way of thinking, I don’t necessarily go into fight just wanting to win but to actually dominate. So when I don’t feel like I dominate, sometimes I feel like a loser I guess, you know, maybe in that perspective. I watched the fight in the early morning because I couldn’t go to sleep, and yeah, man, I have no idea, I’m really surprised. I don’t know what the judges saw. I counted every round all the significant strikes, and I feel like it was just a complete robbery, man. It’s a shame.”

The 29-year-old flyweight said that even UFC president Dana White called him on Sunday to apologize for the judges scoring of the bout.

“You know it’s bad when uncle Dana calls you to apologize for the judges,” Cejudo said. “It happened yesterday [Sunday]. I sent Dana a text saying thank you for the opportunity, I fought like a warrior last night, I hope it was entertaining. He called me literary like two seconds right after I sent the text message, and he was like, ‘Listen, Henry. I apologize. I’m sincerely sorry, you won that fight, everybody that I talked to, Sean Shelby said you won that fight, everybody that was ring side, there is not one person in that arena that thought you shouldn’t won that fight’. It was just a sincere apology and it says a lot because I don’t really have a relationship with Dana White. I just happen to text him and yeah, he was apologetic man.”

A factor that played in the scoring of the fight was a point deduction for Cejudo after landing two illegal groin shots on Benavidez. That decision made by referee Yves Lavigne was also a controversial one, as many previous times, fighters under the same circumstance have not been deducted points. Also, the kicks landed by Cejudo didn’t appear to be intentional.

“Man, I’ve seen some low blows before and I think a lot of it is... I, again, I didn’t mean to kick him on the balls,” Cejudo explained. “As much as I didn’t like Joe, as much as he’s not a fan of me and I’m not a fan of him, you know, it was unintentional. I think with the whole switching of the stance kind of confuses people, so sometimes I think I caught him midway through. I think the kick might have slipped up from his thigh and into his crotch area, but yeah, that whole one-point deduction you rarely see it in MMA, and I was a special case. But even with that, Ariel, watching the fight I still felt like I won that fight. I dropped him twice that first round, I got the most significant strikes, it definitely looked to either [be a] win or at least have the round even. And then second and third, I was the aggressor the whole fight.”

Cejudo didn’t get a chance to speak with Lavigne after the fight about his decision to take away a point, but believes that if another referee, like ‘Big’ John McCarthy, and better judges would have officiated the fight, the outcome would have been different.

Cejudo hopes to get a rematch with Benavidez sometime in the future, but for now, he’ll just move on and continue getting better.

“Yeah, it sucks,” Cejudo said. “It’s unfortunate, but I’ve learned that I just have to take my own advice: rather than just becoming bitter, I got to become better. And I’ve been doing MMA for three and a half years and I don’t think people realize, I’m able to pick up with proper coaching, good training partners, I have the best style to defeat the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world – Demetrious Johnson. I’m only getting better, my time is clicking, I don’t even necessarily see this as a loss.

“I think as a fighter, people know, people have an idea when they think they’ve lost, and I don’t feel that. I just feel robbed, man. Especially when some of his teammates and some of his fans, like Brandon Moreno came up to me and was like, ‘Hey, I’m sorry, dude. You won that fight.’ His training partners in his corner, I heard T.J. Dillashaw said the same thing, and I think Eric Shelton thought I won that as well. I don’t know how much of that stuff is true, but when you got people that close that train with him and saw the fight, and they thought that I probably got the victory, you know, they shouldn’t be saying stuff like that, but that just shows you that I did enough to win the fight.”