Henry Cejudo said he was going to knock out T.J. Dillashaw and on Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night 143, and he did just that.
Cejudo dispatched Dillashaw in just 32 seconds, capping off a solid night of action on what was the UFC’s historic debut on ESPN and ESPN+. “The Messenger” clipped Dillashaw with a partially-blocked head kick, shoved him to the canvas and eventually finished him off with a barrage of punches.
But when referee Kevin MacDonald pulled the defending UFC flyweight champion off and officially ended the fight, the MMA world erupted in controversy. Many felt the stoppage was premature, but Cejudo feels otherwise.
“It was a great stoppage,” a beaming Cejudo told the assembled media at the post-fight press conference late Saturday night. “I felt his body go limp. I was 146 pounds when I fought him. I was strong. I was throwing hammers. His body went limp. I think it was a great stoppage. What makes T.J. so good is that he’s a sore loser. I shoved him down and when you get shoved by somebody, you’re hurt. Come on, man.”
According to the Phoenix native, he foresaw the fight unfolding that way, though he likely didn’t think he’d fend off the reigning bantamweight champ so quickly. Cejudo said he knew Dillashaw had no chance against him.
“I was faster, more explosive,” he said. “I studied him and I knew all of his smoke bombs. We brought guys in who know his system. I knew exactly when he was going to dip and not to overreact. I was the aggressor and claimed my territory.”
Cejudo said he is willing to give Dillashaw a rematch, but with his 125-pound division in a state of flux, he said he’ll gladly do it at bantamweight because it’ll give him another chance to add to his impressive ledger.
“I gave him the opportunity [to fight for my title],” he stated. “I wanted to add to my legacy. I fought in the Olympics. If he wants a rematch, let’s do it at 135 pounds, let’s fight for your title and let me keep mine. I would have to talk to Dana and my team, but I’m the guy with the gold.”
Before Cejudo left, he declared that this win was much bigger than himself; it was for every smaller-weight fighter out there who might not get a chance to fight in the UFC now.
“This win was not just for me but for every flyweight out there,” he said. “I put them on the map tonight. I know you don’t accept it, but I beat the baddest bantamweight of all-time. I stopped him.”
Cejudo chuckled about what transpired and how many MMA fans ignore the smaller fighters: “I thought we were boring,” he quipped.
UFC president Dana White spoke to the media before Cejudo joined the presser and was adamant that the stoppage was premature. He was also coy about the future of the men’s flyweight division and was non-committal as to whether Cejudo and Dillashaw would have an immediate rematch and if so, in which weight class it would take place.