TJ Dillashaw moves down to 125lbs to attempt to become the UFC’s sixth double champion as he takes on flyweight champion Henry Cejudo on Saturday night.
It seems like this is a fight that has been years in the making such is the level of build up we’ve had in the lead up to Saturday’s title fight.
Will it be booked? Will it happen? Is this a genuine superfight? These were some of the detracting questions when Cejudo called out TJ Dillashaw last August after dethroning the then, long time champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 227.
It had been touted that Demetrious Johnson would meet TJ Dillashaw at flyweight but since moving onto pastures new with ONE Championship, Cejudo was happy to put his name in the hat and dance with the current bantamweight champion Dillashaw.
Both men fought on the same card at UFC 227 and TJ Dillashaw successfully defended his belt against former team mate Cody Garbrandt in devastating fashion for a second time.
A lot can change in an instant when it comes to MMA and five months on, the UFC seem set to dispose of the 125lbs division. Despite this, UFC officials booked the upcoming title tilt at flyweight in a controversial move that in the same week saw many of the division’s fighters seeking new homes having been released by the promotion.
It would have possibly made sense for Cejudo to move up a weight class but the original plan was for Dillashaw to come down and aim to become a double champion.
Cejudo’s head coach claims that the champ is currently sitting at 135lbs as we begin fight week and the same sentiments were mirrored by Dillashaw’s camp despite a picture surfacing late last week of him looking drawn out.
It’s important to note that Dillashaw is making the trip to 125lbs for the first time in his MMA career.
STAND AND BANG OR LONG GAME TACTICS?
It has been well documented that since Dillashaw left Team Alpha Male and joined up with Duane Ludwig, his striking has improved dramatically but what can be forgotten about is the incredible footwork that TJ has in his arsenal.
His elusive footwork and speed is a huge conundrum for opponents attempting to offer up a quick retort with their own offence. Due to this elusiveness, Dillashaw’s ability to seize upon openings and land at will is a big factor as to why he is currently leading as the favourite to win this fight.
However, with this in mind, we don’t know how TJ will look come weigh in time or how long it may take him to recover from a long drawn out dehydration period and his tactics may be best played out over a longer period of time so as not to burn himself out too quickly.
Cejudo is a tricky customer himself with exceptional wrestling skills and can take opponents down at will and gas them out. This is a huge asset for the champion but what has been overlooked is his punching power which seems to get better with every fight he’s in.
Cejudo does have legitimate finishing power which a lot of opponents seem to forget about because they’re looking out for him shooting in on takedowns but don’t preempt that Cejudo likes to come up quickly and throw fists into the mix.
It’s certainly got all the ingredients for a fun fight but significantly, the weight cut may decide this before both men even set foot into the cage.
UFC Brooklyn is the first UFC event of 2019 and can be viewed on UFC Fight Pass and BT Sport this coming Saturday night.