Going into their match last Saturday at UFC Fight Night 78, it was widely believed that the winner of the Henry Cejudo and Jussier Formiga bout would receive the next title shot against UFC Flyweight Champion, Demetrious Johnson. Even the event’s announcers, Jon Anik and Brian Stann, speculated that the match was in all likelihood a title eliminator. Cejudo picked up the win over Formiga in what was surprisingly ruled a split decision. But even though he got the nod, does Cejudo deserve the next crack at Johnson?
Cejudo’s Olympic background certainly helps his case. He won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and is undefeated in MMA with a perfect 10-0 record, and 4-0 in the UFC. He’s also ranked as the #3 contender behind only Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson, both of whom have already had two fights against Mighty Mouse. So, considering his record, it’s hard to argue against a Cejudo title shot.
But let’s not forget that Cejudo’s recent victory over Formiga was the first win he’s had over a top-5 opponent. Additionally, Cejudo’s fights probably haven’t gotten fans too excited at a possible title fight with Johnson. Cejudo has yet to finish a fight in the UFC, which may not bode well for him, considering many fans haven’t positively latched on to Johnson’s highly technical fighting style. And the PPV numbers unfortunately prove that; the last four PPV’s that have featured a Mighty Mouse title fight have averaged just 140,000 buys per event. Meaning a fight between Johnson and Cejudo may not be overly alluring to fans.
There is also the recent issue of Cejudo stating he is not willing to fight in Las Vegas. Cejudo’s reluctance to fight in Las Vegas stems from the overzealous five-year suspension of Nick Diaz by the NSAC for his failed drug test for marijuana. But following the recent settlement talks in the Diaz case, Cejudo has been amending some of his statements. “I think there’s due process going on,” Cejudo said. “So as soon as that gets overturned, we can talk. I mean, obviously I’m not my own boss. I’d have to sit down and talk to everybody from the UFC and decide what we’re gonna do. [As long as] Nick Diaz is freed, I’ll fight in Vegas.” If the UFC brass does offer Cejudo the next title shot against Johnson, he might want to rethink his disposition on fighting in Las Vegas, especially considering two of Johnson’s last three title defenses have happened in Las Vegas.
When asked how he thinks he’d do against the champ, Cejudo was confident, stating that, “I’m a really good matchup for Demetrious Johnson next. I’m a wrestler and I know how to defend his takedowns. When the time comes, I’ll be ready. I deserve it.”
And in all likelihood Henry Cejudo will get the next shot at Mighty Mouse. Johnson has pretty much cleaned out his division, and though a match-up with Cejudo might not excite the more casual MMA fan, it probably makes the most sense from a booking standpoint. Cejudo certainly believes he’s next to get a title shot against Johnson, saying, “I believe I’m next in line. It’s up to the UFC, but I’ll fight whomever, whenever. Minus maybe Vegas.”