LOS ANGELES – It has been the rare flyweight fight in the division’s six-year history in the UFC where the crowd rose as one and roared in the waning seconds of a fight.
Never, though, was there a flyweight fight like the one Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo put on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 227 at Staples Center.
In a high-level exhibition of mixed marital arts, Cejudo defeated the greatest fighter of all-time, winning a split decision to end Johnson’s long reign atop the flyweight division. Their battle was later named Fight of the Night.
Judges saw it 48-47 twice for Cejudo and 48-47 for Johnson, giving the 2008 Olympic gold medalist the victory by the narrowest of margins. The win by Cejudo ended Johnson’s reign atop the flyweight division after five years, 11 months and stopped his 13-fight winning streak.
Exulting in victory just 10 minutes from where he was born, an emotional Cejudo said afterward he wanted to fight for the bantamweight title next.
It was a brilliant performance by Cejudo, who was stopped in the first round when he first met Johnson at UFC 197. After a loss to Joseph Benavidez that he believed he won, Cejudo defeated Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis to earn another crack at the only champion the division had known.
— #UFC227 (@ufc) August 5, 2018
The bout was extraordinarily close and was probably determined by the judges’ view of Cejudo’s takedowns. He took Johnson down five times in the bout and had his best sequence at the end of the fourth as he was landing some ground-and-pound on the elusive champion.
He didn’t do much damage, but the level of grappling was extraordinary from both men.
Both fighters felt the fight was on the line as the final round opened, and the crowd smelled an upset. It was roaring as the fifth began and Johnson opened it with a couple of kicks.
Cejudo, though, had said prior to the fight that the only thing that had beaten him in the first fight with Johnson was his lack of experience, and he showed that on Saturday. When he needed it most, he was able to get some offense on Johnson as the fight went down the stretch.
The two stood toe-to-toe and exchanged in the final 15 seconds, each landing and each knowing the fight quite literally hung in the balance.
When the decision was announced, Cejudo’s team erupted in jubilation while Johnson applauded the new champion.
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