As Henry Cejudo gets set for his first title defense at UFC Brooklyn, the flyweight champ’s ramping up his verbal game, and he’s doing so at a crucial juncture. How’s that?
Well, if you’re a fairly big MMA fan, then you know that the future of the UFC’s 125 division is unclear, as Cejudo prepares to face T.J. Dillashaw on Saturday night. After Cejudo ended Demetrious Johnson’s historic run as the flyweight champ in August, talk began to circulate that the UFC was looking at axing the division. Then after Johnson left for ONE Championship, some flyweights reported being let go, with their contention the division was being shuttered. More recently, however, Dana White has stopped short of saying the division is going to be cut, but, he has acknowledged its future is uncertain.
As a result, many have opined that if Dillashaw defeats Cejudo on Saturday, the 125 bracket will cease to be. So, if that’s the case, clearly there’s a lot riding on the bout. Even if Cejudo wins, and the UFC keeps 125 alive, the division’s going to need to draw more interest from fans over the coming months.
Well, Cejudo recently appeared on “The MMA Hour”, and the Olympic Gold Medalist was doing his best to promote Saturday’s contest. Here is just some of what he had to say (quote via MMA Fighting):
“Personally, I think he looks like Pee-wee Herman if you ask me,” Cejudo said, while referring to Dillashaw’s appearance, as he continues to cut to 125. “In the physique way, I really do feel like he looks like Pee-wee Herman. … I thought he’d have a little more bulk to him, but I guess not. He’s not looking so well. It looks like he needs a cup of water. He looks like a cross country runner.”
“I’m locked in, cocked in, whatever you want to call it. This dude is going to get it. He’s messing with my division. He’s trying to take my belt. He’s trying to snatch my dream. T.J. Dillashaw is going to be my perfect example.”
“A lot of people are talking about, ‘Oh, I’m the champ champ. I got two belts. Blah, blah, blah.’ I just want to let you guys know that T.J. is fighting the champ champ. He’s fighting the Olympic champ and the current UFC flyweight champ that beat the greatest fighter of all-time, and I’m the champ champ. Just FYI, I’m the true definition of champion. I’m the Olympic champ, UFC champ. I’m one of one. Nobody in the UFC could ever say that…”
Now, we don’t know if comments like this will make the rounds and spike interest in Saturday’s bout. But, it is representative of the type of pre-fight talk that sells fights, at a time when there is an additional, compelling storyline tied to the flyweight division. We don’t know what’s going to happen to it.
Further, the comments also hit on what many others have argued: Cejudo could / should be a marketable star for the UFC. After all, he is a former Olympic Gold Medalist who currently holds a UFC title. If he defeats Dillashaw, then all sorts of opportunities should open up for “The Messenger” and hopefully the flyweight division.