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Henry Cejudo believes UFC flyweight division will be ‘resurrected’ with win over T.J. Dillashaw

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What will be the fate of the flyweight division after this weekend’s UFC on ESPN+ debut?

That is the biggest elephant in the room as the champion vs. champion superfight between flyweight king Henry Cejudo and bantamweight titleholder T.J. Dillashaw approaches. Rumors have persisted for months of the UFC imminently shutting down its 125-pound weight class, and already several notable flyweights have been let go by the company. Nonetheless, the UFC has yet to make a formal announcement regarding its plan for 125 pounds, and in Cejudo’s eyes, the fate of an entire division could rest in his hands when he defends his title against Dillashaw on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“The flyweight division is going to be resurrected,” Cejudo said Monday on The MMA Hour. “That’s what’s going to happen Saturday night. Think about it, think about it — this is the perfect story. We’re fighting on the inaugural ESPN+ fight card. ESPN, at flyweight. Henry Cejudo is going to defend it, he’s going to beat T.J. Dillashaw, and then the flyweight division is getting resurrected again. I mean, this is a quinceañera, man. This is like a little wedding for me. Are you kidding me? This [division] ain’t going nowhere, man. This thing ain’t going nowhere and T.J. Dillashaw is going to be my victim, and I love it.”

Cejudo, 31, admitted that he, too, is in the dark about the future of the flyweight division, however he still believes there is a chance to change the UFC’s mind.

Several prospects at 125 pounds, such as Jose Torres and Jarred Brooks, have cited the impending demise of the flyweight division as the reason for their UFC releases in recent months. Other ranked contenders, such as Sergio Pettis and Ray Borg, have already either moved up to bantamweight or have indicated an intention to do so.

The situation is a strange and relatively unprecedented one, but Cejudo is keeping a mindset that a strong performance against Dillashaw at UFC on ESPN+ may be enough to reignite the promotion’s interest in continuing forward with the men’s 125-pound class.

“I’ll be quite honest, I don’t know what the UFC is thinking, I don’t know how they’re thinking,” Cejudo acknowledged. “You know sometimes when you think something is shiny and gold, it tends to be rusted and bronze, but that’s just the way it is, man. But I’m going to do mine, I’m going to fight for my division, I’m going to beat this dude up Saturday night, and the flyweight division ain’t going nowhere. That’s all I could tell you.

“They have not told me anything, but I’m going to tell them Saturday night,” he added.

Cejudo captured the UFC flyweight title last year with a stunning victory over the division’s longtime stalwart, Demetrious Johnson — a win which earned Cejudo MMA Fighting’s 2018 Upset of the Year honors. Johnson was a historically great champion at 125 pounds, having defended his title a record-breaking 11 consecutive times prior to his split decision loss at UFC 227, however the division stagnated commercially under his reign.

Now Cejudo hopes to change things with a big showing at UFC on ESPN+.

“I hope every flyweight has my back,” Cejudo said. “I hope — and I can feel it — that everybody [at 125 pounds] is going to be cheering for me. So this is a fight where I’m fighting for a division, for the sake of a division, for the sake of a lot of families out there, and that’s it. That’s it. It’s going to be a perfect Cinderella story, and I want to thank T.J. Dillashaw for allowing me to do that, and I want thank my uncle Dana White for giving me the publicity.”