CHICAGO — Henry Cejudo became a two-division world MMA champion, Saturday with a third round TKO victory over Marlon Moraes. The flyweight champion moved up in weight to challenge for gold at 135 pounds against Moraes, who had won 17 out of his previous 18 bouts.
The former freestyle wrestling Olympic gold-medalist offered up a new nickname suggestion for himself, afterward.
“My name is Triple-C,” he shouted. “Olympic champion, flyweight champion and now bantamweight champion!”
Cejudo also admitted that the rumors that he’d injured himself earlier in the week were true.
“I was fighting adversity,” he continued. “I sprained my left ankle. I couldn’t do anything but I still wanted to fight.”
After earning his second UFC championship, Cejudo announced his intentions to one day contend for a title at a third weight class, and listed several opponents that are now on his hit-list. For his accomplishments and efforts, Cejudo also called UFC president Dana White and demanded that his pay improve.
“I want to start getting paid,” he said. “I want to start making heavyweight money.”
Cejudo called out former two-time bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, former bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt, and former featherweight world title-holder Urijah Faber before announcing that he’d also like to move up to featherweight at some point.
Cejudo fought through more than his described ankle injury, of course. In fact, Moraes looked far faster at kicking range early on.
Cejudo had to make key adjustments to come from behind and put himself into a position to win. Moraes arguably won the first half of the fight, frustrating, hurting and even dropping Cejudo with kicks to his lead calf as well as firing off fast punches in volume whenever Cejudo led with his own kicks.
About halfway through the second round, however, Cejudo closed the distance a bit and began landing big punches to the head as well as knees to Moraes’ skull from the Thai plum clinch.
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Cejudo started the third round, fast, landing a straight cross to the head of Moraes before clinching up and pressing his opponent against the cage. Moraes soon got free but eventually found himself back in Cejudo’s clinch and absorbed more knee strikes to the head.
Halfway through the round, Cejudo once more pressed Moraes against the fence and then grabbed hold of a front headlock. From there, Cejudo snapped Moraes to the mat and locked in an arm-in choke, which Moraes defended.
Despite not finishing the submission, Cejudo kept the pressure on and pinned Moraes against the cage, on his back. Unable to get back to his feet, Moraes faced a barrage of strikes from underneath Cejudo.
Cejudo first landed punches from on top, in the half-guard, then elbows. Posturing up one last time, Cejudo unloaded with more elbows and punches to the head of the downed Moraes, prompting the referee to step in and stop the contest with nine seconds left in the round.
With the win, Cejudo’s record improves to 15-2. With the rare loss, Moraes’ mark drops to 22-6-1.
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