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Henry Cejudo’s coach says result ‘would’ve been the same’ with later Dillashaw stoppage: ‘Just more damage on him’

Henry Cejudo has made a career out of defying the odds, and he did so once again with a sensational performance on Saturday night at UFC Brooklyn.

Cejudo defended his UFC flyweight title with a stunning 32-second TKO victory over bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw in the champion vs. champion main event of the UFC’s debut on ESPN+. Cejudo dropped Dillashaw with a hard right hand just 18 seconds into the contest, then pounced with a flurry of unanswered strikes for another 12 seconds before referee Kevin MacDonald jumped in to stop the action. It was another remarkable display from the man who dethroned longtime flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and another addition to the already decorated résumé of the Olympic gold medalist.

Not everyone was happy with the finishing sequence though.

After the match, an enraged Dillashaw repeatedly accused MacDonald of stopping the contest early. Dillashaw called the situation “ridiculous” and “pretty pathetic” and said at his post-fight press conference that his opportunity was “stolen” from him by MacDonald. Dillashaw also maintained that he is “leaps and bounds better than Henry Cejudo,” even despite the loss, and called for a rematch to take place at 125 pounds.

Asked about Dillashaw’s complaints on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Henry Cejudo’s longtime coach Eric Albarracin indicated that things were only going to get worse for Dillashaw if MacDonald had allowed the contest to continue for a few extra seconds.

“Obviously anything could’ve went a little bit longer, but I think the result might’ve been the same, would’ve been the same, probably just more damage on him,” Albarracin said during an in-studio appearance on The MMA Hour. “Henry was hurting him. He hit him with the kick, the head kick. He hit him with the left. I think one behind the ear, he got a straight right over the ear. And there’s a YouTube [video] that’s called ‘What Really Happened With T.J. Dillashaw vs. Henry Cejudo,’ and they break it down perfectly, how many shots he took and how he wasn’t defending himself intelligently, how the wrong hand was up, Henry was over here but he was looking over here.

“So, he explains it perfectly and I’d rather have — that’s probably the best video for us to watch, because he breaks it down blow-by-blow.”

Controversy or not, Cejudo having claimed back-to-back wins over Johnson and Dillashaw now stands among the most impressive two-fight runs in the sport’s history.

And although much was made about Dillashaw’s decision to drop down to 125 pounds in the lead-up to UFC Brooklyn, Albarracin can only take Dillashaw’s words at face value when confronted with the question of whether the 135-pound champion was a diminished fighter at flyweight. The way Albarracin sees it, if Dillashaw and his coaches felt the 32-year-old champion was at full strength at 125 pounds — as they claimed numerous times both before and after the match — he won’t concern himself with wondering how Dillashaw’s weight cut affected the outcome of the fight.

“I can only go on what their coaches say — ‘he’s faster, he’s stronger, he’s never felt better,’” Albarracin said.

“So, like I said, I’m not worried about what or how much he was doing, as what Henry was doing. Henry, we’ve never seen him stronger. The last camp he only weight-lifted or did strength and conditioning for three weeks, and this time we did it throughout the whole time, seven weeks, and you could really see the difference. Henry hadn’t done S&C since the 2008 Olympics. So really in the last 10 years, he’s only done strength and conditioning for nine weeks total, and he just puts on muscle so fast.”

Cejudo, 31, now finds himself in an interesting position as the UFC flyweight champion.

One of the strangest narratives surrounding UFC Brooklyn was that Cejudo was ostensibly fighting to keep the division alive against the UFC’s desire to shutter it. Dillashaw was supposed to serve as the final nail in the coffin for 125 pounds — instead, Cejudo defended the prestige of the flyweight class on a massive stage that kickstarted the UFC/ESPN broadcast relationship in style.

Now the future of the division is unknown. And even though Cejudo wants his next fight to be a rematch against Dillashaw at 135 pounds, Albarracin is confident Cejudo’s time at flyweight is far from over.

“It’s kinda like working against ‘us saving the flyweight division,’ but it’s not that Henry doesn’t want to save the flyweight division, it’s more for that one match,” Albarracin said of the Dillashaw rematch. “Henry likes to conquer. He’s a conqueror. He conquered the Olympics, retired his next day. He conquered the flyweight division yesterday again, and [maybe he’ll] challenge for the next title, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t go back.

“I think you go out there, beat T.J. just to get that belt and be able to say you’re the double champ champ, which would put you in one-of-one — meaning Olympic gold, flyweight gold, bantamweight gold. And I think, kinda, that’s what he wants for his legacy. It’s not more about that accessory, the belt. It’s more about creating a legacy for us.”

As for a timetable for Cejudo’s return, Albarracin floated the idea of July for International Fight Week as a potential landing spot for the Olympian’s next outing.

“I know Henry wants to be on a big card,” Albarracin said.

“The last fight, he took basically a pay cut. He got paid less than anybody else, but he did it because he said, ‘I’m not in it for the money, I know I can beat [Johnson] now, I’m not going to wait two years to get my shot at the belt.’ So finally with this ESPN deal, it kinda put him on the next level, top tier for pay, so he’s getting paid now.

“But I would say maybe International Fight Week, that’s a big one. We can get on a big card. I think Henry is one of the money fights now. I think that not only did he save the flyweight division, he created Cejudo-weight division. Who wants to come down from 150 pounds or less, come on down and fight the champ champ champ?”

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