UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo and bantamweight titlist TJ Dillashaw, who meet in a Jan. 26 superfight for Cejudo’s belt, both acknowledged on Monday that their clash likely will mark the end of the 125-pound weight class in the UFC.
“They paid me a f— ton of money to kill the division,” Dillashaw said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.
Cejudo, also appearing on the show, said the fight at UFC 233 in Anaheim, California, could lead to him moving on from the UFC. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist wrestler, who in August ended the record-breaking reign of Demetrious Johnson, lauded “the greatest of all time” for landing a deal with ONE Championship and said, despite the longtime champ’s departure, “I still feel like there’s a trilogy between Henry Cejudo and Demetrious Johnson. I see that playing out sometime in the future.” (They also met in 2016, a first-round TKO by Johnson.)
Under what promotion might that third meeting occur?
“That is to be announced,” Cejudo said.
Cejudo acknowledged that he recently signed a six-fight deal with the UFC but added, “I think everything changes once they dismiss the flyweight division, if that’s going to be the plan. I believe there’s free agency in there, possibly. I believe the contract is signed at 125 pounds.”
However, before Cejudo (13-2) sets his sights on Johnson, he envisions at least two UFC fights, both against Dillashaw (16-3), with each bout in a different weight class.
“The fight’s a superfight to a lot of people, but I’m going to smash this guy,” he said. “Him coming down an additional 10 pounds — I gave him the option [of fighting at bantamweight], but he wants to come down. My whole thing, Ariel, is when I beat him — because I know I’m going to beat him, there’s no doubt, I’ll put my purse on it — my whole thing is when I beat him, Ariel, they’re going to hold up the bantamweight division again because he’s going to get his rematch, but this time it’s going to be at 135 pounds.”
Dillashaw called Cejudo “a head case” for setting out this narrative.
“He’s nervous,” the 135-pound champ said. “He’s nervous to compete.”
It was Cejudo, Dillashaw contends, who angled for the fight to be contested at 125 pounds by negotiating hard with the UFC for a bump in pay in order for him to agree to move up to 135.
“He was trying to get out of it,” said Dillashaw, 32, who regained the bantam belt in 2017. “He doesn’t know that I’m able to make the weight in this short amount of time. He thought it was going to be too short a time for me to make 25.”
But the 31-year-old Cejudo, emboldened by having vanquished longtime pound-for-pound No. 1 Johnson a decade after becoming the youngest to win Olympic wrestling gold, is taking a competitive backseat to no one.
“You can be Daniel Cormier, you can be Jon Jones and both of those guys combined. You can have a thousand belts,” he said. “But there’s only one athlete in this world that’s been a two-sport world champion, and his name is Henry Cejudo.”