Henry Cejudo is returning to the Octagon after a three-year retirement to fight bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling in an attempt to reclaim the belt he never lost in the Octagon. “The Messenger” was the fourth champ-champ in history, holding the flyweight and bantamweight belts, and as his long-awaited return approaches, here’s a look at his last handful of fights to refresh your memory.
Order UFC 288: Sterling vs Cejudo
UFC 249 | Cejudo vs Cruz | Jacksonville, Florida
This crowd-less bantamweight title battle took place in the UFC APEX on May 9, 2020. The lack of a packed house did not take away from the entertaining performance that was put on by the champion Henry Cejudo and bantamweight great Dominick Cruz.
Cejudo came out with violent leg kicks, using these to gradually slow down the veteran, and the gold medal-winning Olympian showed no mercy, just chopping away whenever he got the chance. In the second round, Cejudo almost landed a head kick, but Cruz connected with a nice right up the middle. Cruz finally found his hands and threw a couple combinations to get his momentum going. But in the midst of battle, Cejudo fired a knee and Cruz fell to the mat. Moments later, the referee’s stoppage gave him his 16th victory and Cruz his first loss by knockout.
UFC 238 | Cejudo vs Moraes | Chicago, Illinois
The United Center was packed to see a top tier matchup between Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes for the vacant UFC bantamweight crown. Moraes was 22-5 when he stepped into the Octagon on June 8, 2019, and by the looks of the first round he was going to pick up his 23rd victory.
But in round two, it was a completely new Cejudo. The flyweight champ started throwing big right hands, and though he was bloody, he was looking to make this a dog fight. He tied up Moraes and sent pinpoint knees to the Brazilian’s body and chin. By round three, a series of hammer fists gave Cejudo the bantamweight title.
UFC 288 FREE FIGHTS: Cejudo vs Cruz | Cejudo vs Moraes | Sterling vs Sandhagen | Sterling vs Dillashaw
UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs Dillashaw | Brooklyn, New York
A sold-out Barclays center was ready to see bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw move down to 125 to take on the defending titleholder, Henry Cejudo. And fans knew a win by Cejudo would singlehandedly resurrect the flyweight division.
The highly anticipated bout was done in the blink of an eye. Dillashaw threw some punches, Cejudo responded, and the rest was history. Once the Olympian dropped Dillashaw, he swarmed without hesitation. As of January 2019, it would be the fifth-fastest knockout in any title fight at 32 seconds and that would be the bantamweight’s first first-round loss in eight years.
UFC 227 | Johnson vs Cejudo | Los Angeles, California
It was the rematch fans had been waiting for since the conclusion of UFC 197 on April 23, 2016, as they wanted to see if Henry Cejudo could strip Demetrious Johnson of his crown.
Early on, a low leg kick by Johnson seemed to injure Cejudo’s left ankle. He would change to southpaw to lessen the load. The first round consisted of good wrestling action and solid strikes from both fighters. Johnson showed why he was the defending champ as he effortlessly moved around the Octagon, changing stances and distance.
Round two started on the cage. Cejudo came in fast with a heavy shot over the top. Johnson kept up with the leg kicks, trying to wear down the Olympian. Both parties countered effectively. Late, there was a quick takedown by Cejudo, who secured half-guard and maintained control, even attacking the shoulders of Johnson with his knees.
Henry Cejudo | Must See Moments
Henry Cejudo | Must See Moments
It seemed like the defending champ just got stronger as the fight went on. Mighty Mouse landed a sharp right to the body, threw some combos and was coolly taking as much as he was given. Cejudo went for the clinch, but DJ rolled out with ease.
As we entered the first fourth round of Cejudo’s career, Johnson landed a big right hand and followed with a knee to the body. The Olympian resorted to his natural instincts to secure a takedown. Holding position on top, he did damage and had excellent control to keep him alive in the distance bout.
DJ went into the final round changing levels to avoid being taken to the mat. Mighty Mouse tried to beat Cejudo at his own game and beautifully turned the clinch around on Cejudo. With a minute left, the fight was on the table, and Cejudo finished strong and evened the score with Johnson.
WATCH: Sterling & Cejudo Get Heated Previewing The Bantamweight Title Fight
Cejudo was now only the second flyweight champion in UFC history.
UFC 218 | Cejudo vs Pettis | Detroit, Michigan
It was #2 against #4 in this flyweight matchup. Cejudo, coming in as the favorite, was looking for a rematch against Demetrious Johnson.
Early on, Sergio Pettis worked efficiently with solid jabs. Cejudo understood the assignment and dropped his opponent to the mat. The wrestler showed why he was an Olympian, displaying elite control on top. There was more of the same throughout the bout, garnering Cejudo a shutout decision win.
UFC 288: Sterling vs Cejudo took place live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on May 6, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass
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