Henry Cejudo’s first title defense will go down as a 32-second TKO in the record books, and he’s just as quick to stop any talk of a bad stoppage.
In the main event of UFC Brooklyn on Saturday, Cejudo successfully prevented T.J. Dillashaw from adding Cejudo’s UFC flyweight championship to his trophy case that already currently holds the UFC bantamweight championship. He wobbled Dillashaw early in the fight and capitalized with follow-up strikes until the bout was waved off.
Afterwards, both Dillashaw and UFC president Dana White expressed skepticism over referee Kevin MacDonald’s decision to call for the stoppage, but Cejudo is confident that the fight ended right when it should have.
“It was a great stoppage because I felt his body go limp,” Cejudo said at the post-fight press conference. “You guys have to understand I weighed in at 146 pounds when I fought him. Strong, and you could see it. Every blow that he took, he was eating some hammers. Personally, I thought it was a good stoppage because he was going to take another 10, 20 hits.
“When your body goes limp like that, when you cut weight like that, thinking you’re gonna go out there and just take my belt from me, that’s not the way it works. So I think it was a great stoppage. This is why MMA is sanctioned now because of refs. If I was to talk to that ref, ‘You’re okay, man. We were both in there. We saw him go limp a few times.’ Watch it again and you’ll see it.”
Cejudo didn’t blame Dillashaw for complaining afterwards, citing their shared competitive spirit. However, he stopped short of saying that there was any supposed controversy, much less one that would merit an immediate rematch at 125 pounds. He said he’ll need to speak to White and his manager about what’s next for him.
“I think partially what makes T.J. good is the fact that he is a sore loser. So am I,” Cejudo said. “But you know what, at least I’m able to accept it and get better from it.
“I saw he was hurt since the beginning, I thought it was that kick that really kind of rattled him. I’m going to have to re-watch that fight, but I could tell, I saw him going limp, I saw his body changing. I shoved him down. If you shove somebody down, they’re hurt. If I do this to you and you’re just (acts dazed), come on.”
Just the second flyweight titleholder in UFC history, Cejudo said that he still considers winning the championship from Demetrious Johnson to be his greatest achievement so far. He added that he always believed Johnson would have beaten Dillashaw if the two fought, so he wanted to take on the challenge himself when the opportunity arose.
Johnson has since been traded to ONE Championship, leaving Cejudo and the rest of the flyweight division in a state of limbo as they wait to hear what the UFC’s plans are for them. The Olympic wrestling gold medalist took pride in winning one for the little guys, especially after Dillashaw had previously bragged that he was being paid to shut down the division.
“This win was not just for me but for every flyweight out there that wanted the opportunity to fight for a world title someday,” Cejudo said. “I put him on the mat. I beat — I know he may not accept it from what I’m hearing — but I beat the greatest bantamweight of all time. And this is a flyweight, these are the guys that are boring (laughs).”
Given that Cejudo is considering moving up to bantamweight to challenge Dillashaw for his title, he was asked why he would do that instead of continuing to build up his division by taking fights at 125 pounds. Besides the fact that he still has been given no assurances about how long his division will even exist, he pointed out that it’s only fair for Dillashaw to offer the same opportunity that Cejudo gave him.
“Because I gave him the opportunity,” Cejudo said. “I gave him the opportunity, part of it too is it is added to my legacy. I’ve done things from the Olympics to defeating two of the greatest fighters of all time. I feel like now, it’s okay guys, I think I have the right to say, ‘Hey, give me a shot. Allow me to keep this belt at 125 pounds. You can get your rematch, but let’s do it at 135 pounds. Give me a shot now.’
“The champ loses his juice. He’s going to fight somebody, he’s going to go defend his title at 135 pounds and he’s got a loss underneath me. That doesn’t make any sense, right? Or maybe? I don’t know. I’m just happy.”
Regardless, Cejudo plans to take his time with his next move, especially if it involves bulking up to 135 pounds. He sees himself as having a target on his back and he wants to silence the doubters and critics, even though he believes that there are more important factors that define his legacy.
“I do because now there’s an X, when you beat somebody like T.J., everybody wants a piece of you now,” Cejudo said. “There’s gonna be a lot of naysayers, ‘Oh, you didn’t beat D.J.’ and now, ‘They stopped it too early with T.J.’ It’s like, God, when am I gonna get the respect that I need, that I deserve? When? When?
“But it doesn’t even bother me no more because I’ve got the credentials to prove it and that’s all there is to it.”