Henry Cejudo (13-2) ostensibly banished one of the greatest fighters in UFC history in Demetrious Johnson when he was able to secure his title in his second attempt at UFC 227. Cejudo’s performance was aided by his Olympic gold medal calibre wrestling, landing three takedowns on the crafty Johnson while narrowly edging the champ in rounds two, four and five to secure the split decision win. In the aftermath Johnson was “traded” to ONE Championship for their former welterweight champ Ben Askren and the UFC began seemingly disbanding their flyweight division.
It came to the shock of many when after the fight, Cejudo chose to call out the promotion’s bantamweight champ Dillashaw. Many assumed that the fight would see Cejudo moving up and Dillashaw attempting his second consecutive title defense; however, the UFC chose to book the pair at flyweight in a possible ode to the division, which was inaugurated in 2012.
Since beating Cody Garbrandt at UFC 217 in November 2017, Dillashaw was able to once again beat “No Love” in the main event of UFC 227 this past September. Both losses were Garbrandt’s first two of his pro career and since we’ve only heard whispers of his return. Dillashaw’s also won four in a row since losing his first title to Dominick Cruz by split decision at UFC Fight Night 81 in January 2016.
The intrigue between these two runs deeper than their “bad blood” and talk show interviews. Each possesses their own brand of wrestling as explained by Chael Sonnen.
With Cejudo overcome the odds (+375) in his last attempt at the title, dethroning the 11-time defending champ Johnson. Dillashaw was an underdog in his title shot with Garbrandt (+175) and a slight underdog in his rematch (-130). In their meeting at UFC on ESPN+ Cejudo is currently pegged a +175 underdog with Dillashaw gaining a -205 advantage.
Cejudo’s wrestle-heavy offense has resulted in 8/13 wins by decision including two by split decision since 2015. After his first round loss to Johnson in his first title bid in 2016, Cejudo then lost a razor thin split decision to Joseph Benavidez before embarking on his current three fight win streak.
Dillashaw owns only 5/16 wins by decision, with a further eight by KO/TKO as well as three submission victories. He owns finishes over former champs Renan Barão and Cody Garbrandt, twice each, as well as Joe Soto and Vaughn Lee, Lee being his last submission victory in July of 2012.
Pulling the fight from UFC 233 was a head-scratcher, but fans can rejoice as the promotion’s debut with ESPN on ESPN+ is full of talent, including staples the likes of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Joseph Benavidez and Yancy Medeiros to name a few. Tickets are nearly sold out at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY ahead of the Jan. 19 date. Disgraced former NFL star Greg Hardy will be making his UFC debut against Allen Crowder in the co-main, while the flyweight super-fight can be found in the main event!