UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw Pick

MMA Fight: UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw Key Matches: Henry Cejudo vs. TJ Dillashaw
When: Saturday, January 19, 2018 Time: 10PM EST
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Henry Cejudo, (+175), 13-2 (5 KOs, 8 Submissions) vs. TJ Dillashaw, (-210), 16-3 (8 KOs, 3 Submissions)

Henry Cejudo defends his UFC Flyweight title against TJ Dillashaw on January 19 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This is a major matchup between two reigning UFC champions, with the bantamweight titleholder Dillashaw dropping down in weight ten pounds to 125 pounds in an attempt to win his second belt against the flyweight champ Cejudo. Dillashaw is one of the UFC’s top fighters, but is biting off a lot in this challenge of a former Olympic gold medal winning wrestler—one who scored a huge win over a legend in Demetrious Johnson in August of last year to win this belt. Beating Dillashaw would add another shimmering nugget to his dossier. Who comes out ahead in this one?

Granted, this is a tough ask for Dillashaw, with him dropping ten pounds to fight an exceptionally-skilled and accomplished belt-holder in Cejudo. When watching Dillashaw, who is always supremely-fit, one wonders how easy it will be for him to pare down his frame to 125 pounds. One would tend to defer to Dillashaw and his camp on these matters, but it certainly qualifies as at least food-for-thought.


Considering Dillashaw’s vast resume of championship success, it’s also fair to ask about the full scope of Cejudo’s MMA merit. He beat Johnson and at the end of the day, the bottom-line speaks loudest. He won Olympic gold and brings an extreme wrestling pedigree into the octagon with him. But after taking losses to Demetrious Johnson in their first fight, as well as Joseph Benavidez, combined with the fact that many felt he didn’t deserve the win against Johnson in the rematch, you have a fighter in Cejudo who is a champion without having really thrived at the highest level. Some think he’s 0-3 against the best he’s faced in the UFC. And in 9 UFC fights, he has scored a lone stoppage win.

The 125-pound weight class has fallen into a state of disrepair. Johnson’s long reign was dominant, but failed to elicit much in the way of overall fireworks. This looks to be the final 125-pound title bout in the UFC, as they reportedly plan to dissolve the division following this bout. The organization’s distaste of Johnson could have played a role in Cejudo getting the win, with Johnson now in a different organization. In other words, Cejudo faces the daunting proposition of defending his title and still not being champion when this is all said and done.

Dillashaw is on a roll. This is his second reign as UFC Bantamweight Champ, the only recent octagon setback being a close 2016 loss to Dominick Cruz. Following that, Cruz lost to Cody Garbrandt, which launched a rivalry with Dillashaw. Following two knockout wins over Garbrandt, Dillashaw is perched up high, the greatest bantamweight to have ever done it. He is confident and cool in the octagon, with some great hands, stamina, and wrestling should he need it. He is a very alert fighter with an abundance of poise when the action is at its hottest.

Dillashaw’s wrestling might be more under-the-radar, as he’s used striking more often than not in registering his best recent triumphs. But he is in fact good at it, though clearly not on the level of Cejudo. Dillashaw will be facing the toughest wrestler of his career and how much Cejudo can make that count will determine whether he has a chance in this battle. But Dillashaw doesn’t figure to be blown away in that area, as his chops are up-to-snuff.

When the analysis turns to the stand-up department, the gulf between the two seems less-negotiable. Dillashaw is a tremendous stand-up fighter, with great movement and an understanding of the nuances of boxing. The bantamweight king is exceptionally fluid, lashes out with great suddenness, and moves with purpose. He looks like he could be a pro boxer, while Cejudo has that unmistakable look of a wrestler who picked up striking late in adulthood. I look for this to manifest in this fight in a bad way for Cejudo.

In a five-rounder at this level, one would also like Dillashaw’s proven stamina. He never seems to get tired, able to maintain a fever-pitch over the full 25-minute distance. Cejudo has not shown an ability to stop quality opposition, meaning his success would likely have to occur over the full five rounds. That doesn’t seem to bode well for a fighter with as much energy as Dillashaw, who never wears down in fight. With Dillashaw, his success is built on dominant wins over tip-top opposition. No fighter on the roster has shown more overall improvement over the years than Dillashaw. On the other hand, you have a fighter in Cejudo whose success is built on a flimsier foundation, with a debatable win over a fighter who had fallen onto organizational disfavor being his only meaningful triumph of which to really boast.

At the end of the day, I see Dillashaw’s skills as being more conducive to sustainable MMA success than Cejudo’s wrestling-heavy approach. I think Dillashaw is too fast and too smart to fall prey to the best stuff Cejudo brings to the table. It won’t be easy, but the striking, variety, and championship experience of Dillashaw will give him the upper-hand, as TJ carefully navigates himself into a winning position in what should be a very interesting bout. I like Dillashaw.

Loot’s Pick to Win the Match: I’m betting on TJ Dillashaw to win at -210 betting odds. Bet this fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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