Henry Cejudo makes the first defence of his UFC bantamweight title when he faces former champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 249. Will ‘Triple C’ remain a two-weight world champion or can Cruz make a fairytale return after over three years away from the Octagon?
Henry Cejudo v Dominick Cruz Preview: Where is UFC 249 Being Held?
Before I go any further, yes this event is finally going to take place after several ‘false starts’. The state of Florida has deemed sporting events “essential” going forward, and that means UFC 249 will be held at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday, May 9. It will be the first of two events held at the venue over the space of several days, with Anthony Smith v Glover Teixeira headlining a UFC Fight Night card on May 13 and Alistair Overeem v Walt Harris main-eventing a UFC Fight Night card on May 16.
Henry Cejudo v Dominick Cruz UFC 249 Predictions & Tips
Former Olympic gold medallist Cejudo made a flying start to his professional mixed martial arts career as he reeled of 10 consecutive victories, but he found himself at a career crossroads in 2016 when he suffered back-to-back defeats that derailed his quest for a title. Cejudo was topped inside three minutes by Demetrious Johnson when he challenged for the flyweight title in April of that year, and eight months later he found himself on the losing end of a split decision defeat to Joseph Benavidez as a first-round point deduction cost him dear.
‘Triple C’ desperately needed to stop the rot when he returned to action in September 2017, and he did just that to spark the best run of form of his UFC career so far. Wilson Reis was dispatched in the second round and having followed that up with a decision win over Sergio Pettis, Cejudo was granted another shot at Johnson. On this occasion he took his chance, ending the dominant reign of ‘Mighty Mouse’ to become flyweight champion via a split decision verdict.
Beating Johnson was massive, but arguably the best result of Cejudo’s career came in January of last year when he needed just 32 seconds to dispatch TJ Dillashaw, and several months later he became a two-weight world champion by halting Marlon Moraes in the third round of a fight for the vacant bantamweight champion. But can he now make a successful first defence against Cruz – a man who has reigned over this division twice and is tied for the most consecutive defences of the crown?
Cruz first became bantamweight champion in 2010 and did not surrender that belt inside the Octagon until he was out-pointed by Cody Garbrandt six years later. However, his reign over the bantamweight ranks was massively interrupted by some serious injuries and those injuries have not calmed since that loss to Garbrandt in December 2016. A string of problems have prevented Cruz from having an opportunity to bounce back from the defeat and at this stage you have to wonder just how much of a toll these problems will have taken?
There is no denying that the former champion is an outstanding fighter, one of the very best that the lighter weights have seen, but after over three years on the sidelines can we really expect Cruz to shake off the ring rust, turn back the clock and dethrone Cejudo? I just do not see it happening. The champion has gone from strength to strength over the past couple of years and now possesses the stand-up skills and finishing power that compliment his outstanding wrestling. Cejudo should overcome Cruz here, but given that the challenger is hard to hit and has not been stopped for over 13 years, the champion may need assistance from the judges to get the win.
UFC 249 Tips: Expert Predictions For Cejudo v Cruz
Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw talking to ESPN: “I actually think Cruz wins the fight. I think he wins a decision. I don’t think Cejudo is all he cracks himself up to be. He’s very good, don’t get me wrong. He’s a great athlete, he’s done some amazing things in the combat world. But I don’t think he’s to the level of what Cruz can show him. It’s going to be difficult for Cejudo to deal with Cruz’s awkward movement. It’s not that Cruz is super technical, he’s just awkward and hard to deal with. Cruz has some huge openings in his game. He’s got a way to be beaten, he definitely does. I just don’t know if Cejudo has the element to do it. The way Cejudo needs to fight Cruz is by not being overly aggressive, don’t chase him. Don’t go guns-a-blazing at the beginning and throwing big shots to try and catch him. I learned that mistake the first couple rounds when I was trying to knock Cruz’s head off, and then I beat him up for the last few rounds. Cody Garbrandt showed that, too. Cruz put himself out of position, because he does it nonstop. Cruz puts himself way out of position all the time, but he’s playing this cat-and-mouse game where he gets you to bite and then he takes advantage of it.”
Henry Cejudo v Dominick Cruz UFC 249 Preview
At UFC 249 on May 9, Henry Cejudo puts his bantamweight belt on the line against former champion, Dominick Cruz. Ahead of the fight the UFC has been inside for both camps as the fighters train for the title bout, and you can see how their preparations have gone in UFC 249 Countdown: Cejudo vs Cruz.