Despite injury, Cejudo becomes two-division champion
On Wednesday prior to his open workout in Chicago, rumours were flying regarding the health status of Henry Cejudo after reports surfaced that he suffered an injury working out at the host hotel.
Cejudo quickly downplayed the incident, saying that he injured his right knee, but was planning on fighting through it. That was partially true, the injury was actually a left ankle sprain that occurred when his foot got caught in training mats that were taped down poorly, but knowing that his opponent would target the injury, Cejudo wisely supplied false information.
When the main event of UFC 238 between him and Marlon Moraes for the vacant bantamweight title got started, Cejudo looked like a deer in headlights for much of the first round and got outclassed on the feet by Moraes.
The second round was the complete opposite as Cejudo started to pressure the pressure fighter and beat him at his own game.
In the third, Moraes was visibly slowing down and Cejudo capitalized, eventually scoring a finish in the dwindling seconds of the round with ground and pound to become the fourth UFC athlete to hold two division championships simultaneously, joining Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes, all of whom have accomplished the feat in recent years.
“I had to adjust,” Cejudo told TSN. “The game plan was to probably wrestle him more, but my ankle wouldn’t allow me to do that. I’m a chameleon and I had to adjust to the fight pretty much.”
Cejudo now refers to himself as “Triple C”, the champ-champ-champ, including his Olympic Gold Medal in freestyle wrestling as the third accolade.
“It’s no more champ-champ, there’s too many of those, I’m ‘Triple C’,” said Cejudo. “I’ve always been a champ, Olympic champ, flyweight champ and now bantamweight champion of the world.”
Cejudo’s next quest is to be considered the pound for pound best fighter in the sport and wins over Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw and Moraes in succession certainly puts him in the conversation.
“He went back to his corner, he adjusted, he adapted and he came out and put on an unbelievable performance and he did it all with no legs,” UFC President Dana White told TSN. “I thought Marlon Moraes was too big, too explosive and too powerful. I will never, ever doubt Henry Cejudo ever again.”
Shevchenko thoroughly outclasses Eye
In the women’s flyweight division, it is going to be difficult to find an equal for champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Shevchenko was among the biggest favourites in UFC championship history in her bout against top contender Jessica Eye and when the dust settled, it was apparent why that was the case.
The first round was dominated by Shevchenko, who used her grappling to neutralize Eye and stayed on top of her for nearly the entire round, eventually attempting a last second submission that was unsuccessful. Eye landed a single significant strike in the round.
The second round took place on the feet for as long as it lasted, as Shevchenko provided an exclamation mark, knocking Eye out with a vicious head kick, only the second such finish in UFC women’s championship history, the first being Holly Holm’s kick heard round the world over the then-dominant Ronda Rousey.
“It felt good because I didn’t have to fight all five rounds and when you are training very hard, after the fight you have this kind of result, of course you feel good,” Shevchenko said following the fight.
Shevchenko downplayed the skill gap between her and other women’s flyweight contenders.
“I know there are a lot of girls who are very skillful, very dangerous girls and every defence is going to be very deserved,” said Shevchenko.
Earlier on the card, second ranked Kaitlyn Chookagian earned a unanimous decision victory over Joanne Calderwood and she is likely next in line for a title shot.
White non-committal on Ferguson’s top contender status
Tony Ferguson came into his bout with Donald Cerrone with many question marks stemming from some personal issues being made public, which he was consistently asked about during fight week.
When fight night came around, none of it seemed to matter as Ferguson put on a virtuoso performance against the always tough Cerrone, beating him up so badly in the second round that doctor’s stopped the bout following the second round due to what was reportedly a fractured orbital bone.
It was Ferguson’s second straight fight that was stopped between the second and third rounds.
Ferguson has now won 12 straight fights, putting his streak in the company of dominant champions that include Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Demetrious Johnson and Max Holloway and yet, a shot at the undisputed lightweight title continues to elude the eclectic athlete known as “El Cucuy”.
Following the event, UFC President Dana White was toting the idea of a rematch with Cerrone being next for Ferguson and refused to commit to Ferguson facing the winner of the lightweight championship unification bout between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi this September.
“He said after the fight that he would like to fight Cerrone again,” White told TSN. “That fight could happen too, it depends on how hurt Cerrone is.”
A frustrated Ferguson is unsure what more he needs to do to earn a title shot.
“I think (White) needs an evaluation. I went in there and I beat (Cerrone) up,” Ferguson told TSN. “Dana’s going to try to keep me away from his prized fighter already, he can’t do it any more, I’m coming after you Khabib.”
Attendance and Bonuses
UFC 238 at the United Center in Chicago drew 16,083 attendees for a $2.03 million (USD) gate.
The Fight of the Night bonus was earned by Ferguson and Cerrone, while the Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Cejudo and Shevchenko. All four athletes take home an additional $50,000 (USD)
The UFC planning event in Vancouver
A report from Brazilian outlet Combate surfaced earlier in the week that the UFC was planning an event on September 14 in Vancouver.
When asked about the report following UFC 238, White told reporters to “go with it”.
White’s comments were tweeted by the official UFC Canada account. No venue or date for the event has been announced as of yet, however Rogers Arena does not have an event listed for the reported September 14th date
This would be the UFC’s first trip to Vancouver since August of 2016 and would be the promotion’s final Canadian event of 2019. The event will be a Fight Night card and this month will mark five years since the last time a pay-per-view took place in Vancouver.