‘The Messenger’ delivered as promised in the first ever UFC on ESPN main event.
On Saturday night in Brooklyn, Henry Cejudo defended his flyweight championship with a stunning TKO at just 32 seconds into the opening round to put away bantamweight king TJ Dillashaw.
In the lead up to the fight, Cejudo spoke often about fighting for the flyweight division amidst rumors that the UFC was possibly going to get rid of the weight class after this event ended.
Dillashaw even said rather candidly that he was being paid to go down to 125 pounds and kill off the flyweight division while becoming a two division champion.
Those plans — real or fictional — came crashing down early in the first round after Cejudo and Dillashaw both came out guns blazing as soon as the fight got started.
While Cejudo isn’t known as a knockout artist, he was definitely looking for a striking attack as he was throwing heavy combinations seconds into the first round with Dillashaw trying to counter the 2008 Olympic gold medalist.
After a furious start, Cejudo managed to clip Dillashaw with one of his rapid fire punches followed by a perfectly timed head kick that connected and he knew immediately that the bantamweight champion was in trouble.
Cejudo quickly followed up with a lightning quick barrage of strikes including a right hand that blasted Dillashaw just behind the ear and sent him crashing down to the canvas.
With his opponent hurt, Cejudo went for the kill with a barrage of punches that forced the referee to rush in and stop the fight before Dillashaw took anymore damage.
To his credit, Dillashaw was quick to his feet to protest the stoppage but he was definitely eating a lot of shots leading up to the end of the fight.
Either way, the fight was over and Cejudo celebrated his victory with a 32 second TKO against Dillashaw in the champion versus champion showdown in Brooklyn.
“I’ve busted my butt my whole life. I was able to beat one of the greatest of all time. It’s surreal,” Cejudo said after the win. “I knew he was hurt. I caught him with that head kick and felt him wobble. The rest was history.”
After such an emphatic victory, Cejudo was quick to defend the future of the flyweight division with hopes of saving the weight class after a statement win against Dillashaw on Saturday night.
That said, Cejudo was also more than happy to offer Dillashaw a rematch — this time at 135 pounds with the bantamweight championship on the line.
“TJ, we can do it again,” Cejudo shouted. “This time we’ll do it at 135 pounds. I’ll give you another shot at 135 pounds.”
Dillashaw obviously seemed more than happy to accept that challenge while still protesting the results of his failed attempt to become a two-weight world champion in the UFC.
“I did get clipped with a right hand behind the ear as I threw my own. You could feel it, but I’m there the entire time,” Dillashaw said following the loss. “It sucks when something’s taken from you, not when you’re actually beat. I would love to get beat. Congrats to Henry Cejudo, good job, but you didn’t beat me.”
Now the question remains about the future of the flyweight division, especially with Cejudo’s willingness to go up to 135 pounds following his win over Dillashaw. UFC president Dana White was non-committal all week long when asked about what would happen to the 125-pound weight class after Saturday was over but Cejudo definitely did his part to prove the flyweights belong inside the Octagon.