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T.J. Dillashaw crashed and burned in his bid to become a simultaneous two-division Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder, and it was a case of Henry Cejudo simply blowing him out of the sky.
Cejudo retained his undisputed flyweight crown in a statement-making performance, as he dismissed Dillashaw with punches in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 143 main event on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Dillashaw, the promotion’s reigning bantamweight champion, succumbed to blows just 32 seconds into Round 1. It was a result no one saw coming.
The 31-year-old Cejudo fired out of the gates, pairing leg kicks with rapid-fire punches upstairs. He pushed an off-balance Dillashaw backward, wobbled him with a partially blocked head kick and dropped him to all fours with a well-placed right hand behind the ear. Cejudo followed up with a ferocity he had rarely shown, even as his dazed counterpart reached for a single-leg out of pure desperation. Dillashaw was met with unanswered rights and lefts to the head, leading referee Kevin MacDonald to call for the stoppage despite his protests.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Cejudo vs. Benavidez,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Henry Cejudo vs. Joseph Benavidez: Perhaps Cejudo’s victory will keep the UFC’s foundering flyweight division on life support a little while longer. If so, Benavidez appears to be next in line for a shot at the 125-pound throne. The San Antonio native handled his business on the main card, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Dustin Ortiz after three competitive rounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Benavidez, who has gone 8-1 across his last nine appearances and, more importantly, owns a December 2016 decision win over Cejudo. Only three men have managed to defeat Benavidez in his 32-fight career: Demetrious Johnson (twice), Dominick Cruz (twice) and Sergio Pettis.
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Raphael Assuncao-Marlon Moraes winner: Dillashaw heads back to the drawing board still in possession of the 135-pound title. However, the loss to Cejudo halted his run of consecutive victories at four and undoubtedly shook his confidence, as it marked only the second time he had been finished as a professional. Dillashaw remains one of the sport’s pound-for-pound greats but has no shortage of worthy challengers waiting for him in the bantamweight division; and if the UFC moves forward with its rumored plans to shutter the 125-pound weight class, it will add Cejudo to the growing list of contenders present there. Assuncao and Moraes have been booked opposite one another in the UFC Fight Night 144 headliner in February.
Gregor Gillespie vs. Charles Oliveira-David Teymur winner: Gillespie moved to 13-0 and continued his climb on the lightweight ladder, as he took care of Yancy Medeiros with ground-and-pound in the second round of their featured confrontation at 155 pounds. The four-time NCAA All-American wrestler wore down Medeiros with suffocating clinches and repeated takedowns. Gillespie’s efforts paid off late in the middle stanza, where he advanced to back, flattened out the Hawaiian and dropped punches and elbows until the job was done. Referee Todd Anderson stepped in 4:59 into Round 2. Oliveira and Teymur will lock horns at UFC Fight Night 144 on Feb. 2 in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Paige VanZant vs. Andrea Lee-Ashlee Evans-Smith winner: In her first appearance in more than a year, VanZant submitted Rachael Ostovich with an armbar in the second round of their women’s flyweight showcase. Ostovich conceded defeat 1:50 into Round 2. The sailing was not smooth for VanZant, who was in all kinds of danger throughout the first round. Ostovich delivered multiple takedowns and threatened her with a half-guard guillotine for several tense moments. VanZant answered a takedown in the second round, freed herself and moved to the Hawaiian’s back. From there, she applied her ground-and-pound, maintained an advantageous position through several scrambles and caught the armbar while on the verge of slipping off of Ostovich’s back. Lee and Evans-Smith will square off at UFC on ESPN 1 in February.
Glover Teixeira vs. Mauricio Rua: Teixeira called upon all his toughness and guile, as he submitted Karl Roberson with a first-round arm-triangle choke in their light heavyweight feature. Roberson countered an attempted takedown with a volley of elbows to the side of the head, assumed top position, unleashed more punishment and appeared to be closing in on a finish. Teixeira survived, escaped to his feet and struck for a takedown. He advanced to mount, put himself in position for the arm-triangle and tied the bow on his latest victory. Rua last appeared at UFC Fight Night 142 in December, when he brought down Tyson Pedro with punches in the third round of their battle in Australia.