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Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw moves down a division to take on flyweight champion Henry Cejudo this Saturday in the first event on the UFC’s new broadcasting deal with ESPN.
The 32-year-old champion is aiming to become just the fourth fighter in UFC history behind Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes to simultaneously hold belts in two different divisions. Dillashaw’s confidence is high heading into the fight, coming in on the strength of back-to-back knockout wins of previous champ Cody Garbrandt. On Monday at a media day in Los Angeles, Dillashaw claimed that while his opponent has grown considerably as a fighter, he doesn’t consider him a danger. (via MMA Fighting)
“He’s gotten a lot better,” Dillashaw said. “I was impressed with his growth. But he’s not like a dangerous fighter, he’s a little more of a boring fighter. But he’s smart, right? I think that’s where I’m going to pick him apart is that I’m going to be able to put it all together.”
Dillashaw expressed confidence the fight won’t go the distance, same as his two bouts against Garbrandt, but declined to predict when or how he’ll finish Cejudo.
“I can’t tell you exactly which way I’m going to finish him, but my pressure is going to be too much,” Dillashaw said. “I’m too well-rounded that I can take the fight anywhere, and he’s going to want to fold. He doesn’t have that competitive edge that I have.”
A superfight between Dillashaw and former flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson was rumored for some time, but after Cejudo dethroned “Mighty Mouse” at UFC 227 in August, Dillashaw lost the chance of fighting the man many people considered the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. While Dillashaw will still fight for the title Saturday night, he admitted to some disappointment that he wasn’t the one to test the lengthy winning streak and title reign of “Mighty Mouse.”
“I was chasing [Johnson] down, he had that No. 1 pound-for-pound spot,” Dillashaw said. “So that meant maybe just a little bit more. But Cejudo is a great athlete, he went out there with a great plan. I’m not too sure that I can say that he won that one decisively over Demetrious, but he showed some great improvements. Really it’s just me being dominant over everyone I fight and it’s going to be exciting but I was chasing Demetrious, yes.”
Cejudo claimed the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in wrestling, but Dillashaw claimed he plans to attack -- and outdo -- him at his own strength.
“I’m going to outwrestle him too,” Dillashaw said. “I am.”
UFC on ESPN+ 1, also known as UFC Fight Night 143, is headlined by a flyweight title fight between Cejudo and Dillashaw on January 19, 2019 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Co-headlining the inaugural ESPN+ event will be a heavyweight slugfest between Greg Hardy and Allen Crowder.