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Henry Cejudo entered the Octagon for the UFC 238 main event on Saturday in Chicago as an Olympic gold medalist and reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight titleholder. When he exited the cage, he did so in possession of the undisputed bantamweight crown, as well. “The Messenger” points to his hardware as evidence of his excellence, sees himself as the “face of the UFC” and wants to be matched with big-name opponents moving forward.
Cejudo became the seventh fighter to win UFC championships in two different weight classes and the fourth to hold dual titles simultaneously, as he stopped Marlon Moraes on a third-round technical knockout to capture the vacant bantamweight crown. Afterward, the Californian revealed his desire to be paid like a heavyweight and called for fights with former UFC bantamweight champions Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt, onetime World Extreme Cagefighting champion Urijah Faber and reigning UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway. Why?
“Because those are legends,” Cejudo said. “I want big fights. I’m on a legends rampage. That’s what I want. I’m a legend killer. I want big fights. I want to fight Dominick Cruz. You guys don’t want Dominick Cruz versus Henry Cejudo? Doesn’t that sound exciting?”
Cejudo did not mention Russian phenom Petr Yan or Serra-Longo Fight Team standout Aljamain Sterling, both of whom were impressive in victory at UFC 238. Yan questioned his motives.
“I don’t know. Maybe he just wants to fight the old guys,” he said. “I’m young, hungry and 26 years old. I’m eager to take this opportunity to fight for the belt. I want to have two belts on my shoulders, too.”
Valentina Shevchenko entered her first women’s flyweight title defense as a massive -1400 favorite when she toed the line against Jessica Eye in the co-headliner. “Bullet” quickly took down Eye and easily won the first round with superior grappling. Shevchenko shifted gears in the second round and kept the fight standing until she leveled Eye with a high kick that left the Ohio native motionless in the center of the cage.
Despite the knockout loss, Eye remained positive on social media.
“To my true supporters, thank you so much for all you do for me,” she said on Twitter. “I am ok and thank you for caring about me. I had a great camp and felt the best I have ever. I made some mistakes that cost me dearly. This fight game can be rough at times but it’s what I signed up for.”
A perfect 3-0 since she moved to 125 pounds in 2018, Shevchenko appears to be settling in for a long and potentially historic reign over the flyweight division.
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“The Ultimate Fighter 23” winner Tatiana Suarez may have earned herself a title fight against strawweight champion Jessica Andrade, as she moved to 8-0 and claimed a unanimous decision over Nina Ansaroff in the featured prelim. Observers did not give her performance rave reviews, prompting Suarez to take to Instagram to reveal some underlying issues.
“Yesterday was definitely a tough night,” she said. “I had a really horrible neck injury going into the fight. I injured it again in the first round. I battled as hard as I could with a very bad neck and numb arm. I didn’t have the performance I wanted but I’m really proud of myself for battling through the injury and being able to get the job done. It tested me mentally and physically.”
UFC President Dana White was asked during the post-fight press conference who was next in line for Andrade: Suarez or Michelle Waterson? White stopped short of naming a No. 1 contender but dismissed Waterson as a potential candidate.
“Definitely not Michelle Waterson,” White said. “Michelle Waterson doesn’t even want to fight until September or October or something, and she is ranked too low. With Tatiana Suarez, I want to make sure her neck is OK.”
UFC 238 “Cejudo vs. Moraes” drew 16,083 fans to the United Center for a reported gate north of $2 million … While Donald Cerrone failed to deliver a victory over Tony Ferguson and extend his UFC record for most career wins, “Cowboy” continued to strengthen his place in the record books. Cerrone tied Jim Miller for first on the all-time appearances list (23) and extended his record for post-fight bonuses (18) after being awarded “Fight of the Night.” Meanwhile, Ferguson pushed his run of consecutive victories to 12, the longest current streak in the UFC. He has pocketed “Fight of the Night” bonuses in seven of his last eight outings … Former World Series of Fighting champion Blagoy Ivanov upped his professional record to 18-2 with a unanimous decision over Tai Tuivasa. The Bulgarian heavyweight now has six wins by decision, six wins by submission and six wins by knockout or technical knockout.