The UFC made a successful, to some, platform debut on its
new home channel of ESPN and ESPN+ on Saturday, Jan. 19. It was the final fight for UFC veteran Dennis
Bermudez and the UFC debut of controversial former NFL star Greg Hardy. Staples such as Paige VanZant, Joanne Calderwood, Donald Cerrone and current flyweight champion Henry
Cejudo all put on stellar performances.
Cejudo took on current UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw,
who was coming down to the flyweight division for the first time to try to
become another two-division champion. Dillashaw would have actually been the
first champion to capture a belt in a higher weight class and then move down in
Weight, rather than the other way around. However, his dreams were crushed in just 32 seconds in what some
have been calling a controversial stoppage that gave Cejudo the victory. Cejudo
himself said after the fight he had no issue with a rematch, but it was his
next remark that stood out. Cejudo issued
a challenge to compete at bantamweight for Dillashaw’s title.
Many fans and pundits thought that a Cejudo win would save the flyweight division
from being dissolved. That might still be so, but Cejudo’s desire to challenge at bantamweight
gives the UFC the perfect opportunity to eliminate the flyweights after all. If Cejudo is victorious a second time around, it will show that the flyweights can “hang” with the bantamweights and
create a tangible reason why flyweights should move up.
This is the problem with all of these champion-vs.-champion
fights. There will always be one fighter who gains no additional gold around his waist, even if he or she is the victor. If Dillashaw had defeated Cejudo, he
would have been a two-division champion. Instead, the bantamweight division is now
going to be in a logjam due to the impending rematch. Other contenders
are going to be sidelined while waiting for the champ to fight Cejudo again.
It’s hard to believe that Cejudo doesn’t see this as a possible
outcome, but he is also riding two of the biggest wins in his career. Yet, many fans and outlets had Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson as the victor in their
flyweight title fight, and the controversy that surrounds the stoppage against
Dillashaw doesn’t help either. In the end, though, it’s not a fighter’s job to stop
a fight. That is at the discretion of the referee inside that Octagon.
It’s safe to say the flyweight division is on its way out,
but it’s amazing to think that one of the factors that could expedite this is
the champion of the division itself. Cejudo needs to think about where he wants
to spend the rest of his career, division-wise, before jumping back into the
fold at bantamweight.
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