HENRY CEJUDO: ADAPTATION LEADS TO GREATNESS.
Henry Cejudo did on Saturday night what only 3 other fighters could do in the UFC; become Champ-Champ.
Let's rewind back to 2008 in Beijing, China. Cejudo became the youngest Mexican-American to ever become an Olympic champion in freestyle wrestling.
Following his official retirement from wrestling competition in 2012, Cejudo wasted little time transitioning to Mixed Martial Arts, having his first fight in March of 2013, a fight he won by TKO via punches.
And that is all he would do in his first 10 fights, was win. Finishing his first 4 opponents via TKO, and decisioning the other 6. Four of those decisions taking place in the UFC as he joined the promotion in December of 2014.
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Then comes April 2016, Henry Cejudo was an Olympic gold medalist, was undefeated in Mixed Martial Arts competition, and was now scheduled to fight one of the greatest fighters to do it: Demetrious Johnson.
Leading into the fight, DJ had 7 title defences, and looked unstoppable at flyweight. That April evening in Las Vegas, Nevada, he displayed much of the same, finishing Cejudo with knees and punches in the very first round.
This, clearly devastating to the caliber of athlete and winner Cejudo was, was his first loss. He came back in December of the same year and had his 2nd defeat within 9 months in a split decision loss to Flyweight staple Joseph Benavidez.
So, Cejudo was back to the drawing board. Having complied a 10-0 run to now be facing back-to-back losses to the elite of the elite at flyweight, he needed change.
Fast forward to September 2017, Cejudo was set to fight top ranked flyweight Wilson Reis in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at UFC 215. And Cejudo did not disappoint. Adapting a much more polished Karate like stance, a piston of a straight right hand, and a new polished outlook, he starched Reis via TKO in the second round.
3 months later, he met striking phenom Sergio Pettis at UFC 218, where he won via unanimous decision against the Milwaukee MMA pioneer.
Then the rematch. A new and improved Cejudo coming back after impressive back-to-back wins to challenge the future Hall of Fame bound Demetrious Johnson.
In a close fight, Henry used his new polished striking to compliment his already amazing grappling to get just enough of an edge over "Mighty Mouse" having won the fight by landing 3 of 11 takedowns and controlling DJ on the mat.
We then jump to, of course, the TJ Dillashaw fight. Dillashaw was coming down in weight to challenge for the UFC flyweight title. Dillashaw, who was the reigning UFC bantamweight champ, was beaten at :32 seconds of round 1 by, the ever improving, Cejudo. Following the fight, Dillashaw tested positive for EPO, was stripped of the title, setting up the next matchup for Cejudo and Brazilian sound striker Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 this past Saturday.
The first round of Cejudo vs. Moraes did not go Cejudo's way. With Moraes landing 16 of 37 significant strikes and 9 of 14 to the legs which visibly rattled the flyweight champ. Cejudo went only 5 of 22 in round one.
Then in round 2, Henry starts to pressure Moraes going 38 of 84, with 31 of those strikes whacking Moraes in the head. This was the peak of the adaptation of Henry Cejudo in this fight, and the beginning of the end for the Brazilian.
Leading into the third, Moraes was visibly tired, flat-footed and struggling. Where Cejudo capitalized and took Moraes down and having the killer instinct that he has, opened up and finished Moraes with strikes in round 3, going 47 for 65, with 39 strikes landing to Moraes' head. And just like that, we had our 4th ever UFC Champ-Champ.
What is paramount when we talk about Henry Cejudo, something that gold medals, numerous UFC belts, entering record books, and devastating wins seems almost mediocre compared to is his amazing ability to overcome. He came up short, regrouped, evolved and came through much more impressively when things got tough and found a way to win. Check out some of Cejudo's teaching skills in this technique video!
He came back from two devastating losses in a row to go on another run to the flyweight title, where he won said title against one of the GOATs, then to destroy a very dangerous bantamweight in his prime. Follow that up with being outclassed early against a Brazilian powerhouse striking machine, to adapt mid fight and finish him in the third round to join the short list of UFC champ-champs in amazing fashion.
Greatest combat athlete of all time? I am not sure.
Most impressive at adapting and overcoming adversity? I would say absolutely.
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