On Saturday night, in the co-main event of UFC 227, Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo did the unthinkable: he defeated long-time UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, earning a close but impressive split decision win. This is something Johnson’s last 13 opponents failed to do — that includes Cejudo, who lost his first fight to the MMA great by first-round knockout.
So how on earth did Henry Cejudo dethrone the long-time king? He broke down his game plan at the UFC 227 post-fight press conference, explaining what he learned in his first battle with Mighty Mouse, and how he applied that knowledge to his successful second fight with the seemingly unbeatable champ.
“It’s a true testimony of an underdog,” Cejudo said (via MMA Fighting). “I lasted the first fight with Demetrious Johnson two minutes and 36 seconds, and I felt like it was going that way in the very first round too. Those calf kicks, really I couldn’t plant. I was forced to switch southpaw, but it actually helped me. Before all this, I said in order for me to beat Demetrious, it had to be with distance, timing, and composure. And that’s exactly how we took this fight. He got to my legs and that was okay. I wanted Demetrious to work.
“This is surreal. This is a kid who was born 10 miles away from Staples Center, the ghetto streets of South Central LA, to Mexican immigrants, to being an Olympic champion at the age of 21. My mother wasn’t able to go to the Olympics due to her citizenship status to her becoming a U.S. citizen about eight years ago, and me now, 10 years later, being an Olympic champion now carrying UFC gold — it really is a dream come true. On August 19 , I became the youngest in history to ever win an Olympic gold medal [in wrestling], and on August 4, I defeated the man, the myth, the legend Demetrious Johnson. It feels super good.”
Hery Cejudo continued:
“I had to keep mixing and making it awkward for him, and I noticed even with Demetrious that the more you make him scramble, he gets tired. He gets tired, he’s human, and I said it before: He bleeds just like me. Tonight was my night.
“I think it was patience,” he continued when asked to elaborate. “I think that was key, and timing, and not allowing a lot of his movement to disorient me. Because he moves a lot, he’s super hard to hit. He’s got a tiny head, like somehow it’s big from the back, but his face, it’s small. So when you fight Demetrious, it’s a small target.
“He’s unlike any other flyweight and I think that was the difference. Like, I’ve got to wait for my opportunity. I might have to get hit a couple of times to give a good hard blow and then transition to my wrestling.”
What did you think of Henry Cejudo’s incredible title defeat of Demetrious Johnson?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/5/2018.