T.J. Dillashaw, ruthless two-time bantamweight king, was going to drop down to 125 pounds, give Henry Cejudo the business, become the company’s latest double champion, and clear the way for UFC czar Dana White to close the flyweight division once and for all. That plan didn’t work.
The last five months had all been leading up to the death of flyweight, a projected end kicked into motion in August by Cejudo’s victory over record-setting champ Demetrious Johnson (I don’t think he won the fight, but here we are). Johnson’s loss preceded his odd departure from the UFC and the release of several flyweights, setting the stage for the UFC to, in Dillashaw’s words, “[pay] me a fuckload of money to move down and kill the 125-pound division.”
Dillashaw lasted just 32 seconds. Cejudo blitzed him from the bell, and his swarming pressure snowballed into the fifth-fastest stoppage in UFC history.
The one-sided barrage knockout was reminiscent of Amanda Nunes’s comically easy ass-kicking of Cris Cyborg, though Cejudo’s victory wasn’t quite as clear-cut. Cejudo was unleashing a hail of quick strikes, and said he felt Dillashaw’s body go limp before referee Kevin MacDonald stopped the fight. Dillashaw, however, immediately appealed the stoppage and continued to try to save face afterward, saying to Cejudo, “You did not win this fight. I am happy to accept defeat, but I did not lose.” He hasn’t stopped complaining, and Dana White even called the stoppage “horrible.” It did seem like MacDonald didn’t give Dillashaw all that much time to recover, though Cejudo genuinely did crack him, and was clearly going to keep pounding him. After all, one of the primary tradeoffs of dropping 10 extra pounds and turning into beef jerky to make weight is a slightly worse chin.
Cejudo and Dillashaw seemed to agree on a rematch at 135 pounds for Dillashaw’s belt, which would make sense seeing as how Cejudo is a huge flyweight who gave Dillashaw a chance to earn two belts. Less clear is the fate of the flyweight class. Cejudo dedicated his win to his fellow 125-pounders:
“This win was for every flyweight out there that wanted the opportunity to fight for a world title someday,” Cejudo said. “I did this for all those little guys who will never make it to 135 pounds. It’s sad they let go of half of the roster. Don’t underestimate the little guys. The flyweights. I’m out and taking out the bantamweight champ. What’s not exciting about it?”
White still wouldn’t comment on the division’s future, likely because he thought the favored Dillashaw would win and didn’t really come up with an alternative plan. As is the case with Tyron Woodley, being despised by Dana White is a pretty easy way to earn fans.