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History in the making: Cejudo takes belt from DJ

CEJUDO vs JOHNSON

In April 2016, Henry Cejudo hit rock bottom when he was stopped in a single round by Demetrious Johnson. Saturday night at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, the 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalist made it to the top of the MMA world in their rematch, as he ended the historic title reign of Johnson by way of a five-round split decision to become only the second flyweight champion in UFC history.

Scores were 48-47 twice, and 47-48 for Cejudo, now 13-2. Johnson, who made a UFC record 11 successful title defenses, falls to 27-3-1.


Cejudo was behind the eight ball early as he apparently rolled his left ankle, but as the round progressed, he seemed to get back on steady legs, and he and Johnson pecked and poked at each other with kicks and punches. Johnson’s best weapons were his kicks, which he moved up and down with ease, but Cejudo was comfortable in there, and he landed a hard left hand during a late scramble.

Champion and challenger continued to battle on the feet for much of round two until a late takedown by Cejudo that allowed the challenger to spend a nice spell in control before the round ended.

Johnson put more pressure on Cejudo in the third frame, prompting the challenger to look for the takedown again. The two ended up clinching against the fence briefly before moving back to range, allowing Johnson to start landing his leg kicks again. Cejudo got a takedown with a little over a minute remaining, but Johnson beautifully scrambled out of trouble, Cejudo emerging with a cut over his right eye.

Cejudo and Johnson traded some solid shots during exchanges in round four, but Johnson’s movement and ability to change directions on the fly while landing hard counters were keeping him a step ahead. Cejudo wasn’t backing down though, and with under two minutes left, he got the takedown and was able to keep the champion grounded until the horn, making it an interesting dilemma for the judges.

The fifth round was tense, with neither fighter wanting to make a mistake that would cost them the fight, but the first half of the frame belonged to Johnson thanks to his striking attack. With 1:15 left, Cejudo got a takedown, and matters got even more tense as the seconds ticked away, with the two going back and forth to the horn, igniting the crowd and earning the two 125-pound standouts a well-deserved ovation after a title fight to remember.

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