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Dana White calls UFC Brooklyn main event stoppage ‘horrible’, unsure about rematch

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UFC Fight Night Cejudo v Dillashaw
Henry Cejudo (red gloves) wrestles with T.J. Dillashaw (blue gloves) in the UFC Brooklyn main event
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

At Saturday’s UFC Brooklyn post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White was crowing about his promotion’s first show on ESPN+ being a smashing success.

There was one major hiccup in his eyes though.

The main event was full of drama as flyweight champion Henry Cejudo spoiled bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw’s plans to drop down to 125 pounds and become a dual-division titleholder by finishing him with strikes in just 32 seconds. Cejudo scored two clean knockdowns of Dillashaw and followed up with accurate strikes as Dillashaw scrambled to recover, prompting referee Kevin MacDonald to step in and wave off the bout.

However, Dillashaw immediately protested the stoppage and White later got an earful of Dillashaw’s complaint backstage.

“He just yelled at me while I was doing an interview when he walked by, ‘That’s bullshit,’” White said. “I thought it was an early stoppage too.

“Listen, you’ve got two of the best guys in the world, two world champions, in a superfight. Let them fight, let them finish, and I’m not talking anything away from Cejudo because the fight went 20 seconds and Cejudo busted him up. I’m sure when you saw [Dillashaw] sitting here it looks like he was in a three-round fight, but Jesus Christ, let ‘em fight. Horrible stoppage.”

White wouldn’t commit to setting up a rematch, despite his dissatisfaction with the ending call, and he had no criticism for Cejudo, who was actually rewarded with one of the evening’s $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses.

As for what Cejudo’s win means for those wondering whether the flyweight division is still in danger of shutting down following speculation that it’s on its last legs, White had hoped that the outcome of the UFC Brooklyn main event would provide some clarity. At night’s end, he still couldn’t provide a clear picture of how that situation will shake out.

“I said we’ll see what happens, I didn’t say I’d have an answer on Saturday,” White said.

Should Cejudo and Dillashaw fight again, White is hoping that whichever commission is involved assigns a referee that he is more familiar with. He referred to MacDonald as a “local guy”, but as MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi pointed out, MacDonald is actually from Massachusetts, not New York, and has officiated in several other states.

“I don’t love it when they have local guys in main events, especially a fight this important, a superfight between two world champions,” White said. “Please, please, please commissions, put the experienced guys in there. Give the guys with the most experience because all you do is you hurt the fighters and you hurt the fans. Your job is to do the exact opposite, so I don’t love it. Honestly, I don’t love it.”

Pressed on whether a potential rematch would take place at 135 pounds, with Dillashaw defending his title instead, or again at 125 pounds, White stated that he’ll meet with his team a few days after fight night as usual and then start matchmaking; for now, he’s as unsure about the immediate futures of Cejudo and Dillashaw as he is about how their first fight was officiated.

“Don’t ask me,” White said. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”