Henry Cejudo is ready to make waves at 125 pounds. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Now that he has finally proven he can make the flyweight limit in the UFC, Henry Cejudo is ready for a step up in competition.
The Olympic gold medalist dominated former title challenger Chris Cariaso in their featured 125-pound clash at UFC 185 at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday night, landing six takedowns and 111 total strikes en route to a clear-cut unanimous decision triumph.
The wrestling was a given, but it was Cejudo’s success on the feet against a muay Thai practitioner that was unexpected.
“He was coming really wild with his striking,” Cariaso said. “He caught me a few times with the wild punches -- his striking is super wild, but it’s not very technical -- that makes it really unpredictable and hard to read.”
It was a bit of redemption for Cejudo, who had to pull out of his scheduled Octagon debut against Scott Jorgensen at UFC 177 due to weight cut issues. Shortly thereafter, UFC President Dana White declared that the Legacy FC veteran would have to move to bantamweight if he wanted to compete in the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Cejudo heeded the boss’ advice, as he outpointed Dustin Kimura in a 135-pound affair at UFC on Fox 13 this past December. After the bout, however, “The Messenger” pleaded for one more try at flyweight. He made the most of his second chance and in the process, demonstrated why he could be an intriguing contender in the division, provided his troubles on the scale on behind him.
Despite his impressive showing against Cariaso, Cejudo believes there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“My striking has improved. I wasn’t too impressed with my performance -- there’s a lot more I could’ve done,” Cejudo said. “I hold myself to really high standards, and I didn’t live up to them tonight. He didn’t hit me with one punch. And if he did, I didn’t feel it, and I know I heard him say ‘ouch’ a few times.”
The lack of depth at 125 pounds has led to some unlikely title challengers, with Cariaso at the top of that list. Although Cejudo wouldn’t turn down a championship opportunity, another highly-ranked foe would be the ideal next step.
“This was only my second fight in the UFC and I fought a top-10 guy,” Cejudo said. “He’s tough, but I train to dominate. I want a top-5 opponent next, but if they want to give me the title shot I’m okay with that too.”