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05th Aug 2018

Demetrious Johnson is no longer the UFC flyweight champion and that feels weird to write

Is this real life?

Darragh Murphy

For the first time in over 2,100 days, the UFC has a flyweight champion whose name is not Demetrious Johnson.

In the latest example of just how unpredictable the sport of mixed martial arts can be, Johnson’s 125lbs title was wrested away by Henry Cejudo in the co-main event of UFC 227 on Saturday night.

Cejudo, who fell to a first-round finish to Johnson in their first meeting in 2016, did what nobody has been able to do at flyweight and that’s defeat the man who many believe to be the greatest fighter of all time.

The rematch was a different kind of contest entirely as Cejudo, an Olympic gold medallist in freestyle wrestling, rallied from an early ankle injury to repeatedly disrupt the rhythm of ‘Mighty Mouse’ with takedowns in the first of two title fights in Los Angeles.

Cejudo didn’t have it all his own way, however, as Johnson utilised leg kicks in typically clinical fashion to test the resilience of his challenger.

But Cejudo stood up to the test and when the time came to read out the judges’ scorecards, the heavy underdog was given the split decision nod, becoming only the second flyweight champion in UFC history.

It was an incredible back-and-forth affair and one would imagine, given the fact that Johnson had held the belt for almost six years, that we won’t have too long to wait before the realisation of a trilogy.

After experiencing the unfamiliar feeling of watching an opponent’s hand raised, Johnson revealed that he believes he tore his lateral collateral ligament and broke his foot in the bout.

“It wasn’t like he blew me out of the water,” Johnson at the post-fight press conference. “First thing’s first. I’m not going to be like, ‘Ah, I want a rematch.’ I need to get healthy first. My health is No. 1, and I’m not going to sign a contract if I can’t get through eight weeks of training camp.”