T.J. retains belt, Cejudo pulls stunning upset
T.J. Dillashaw retained his bantamweight strap by defeating Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt for a second time in the UFC 227 headliner last night at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Dillashaw cashed tickets as a -135 favorite, while gamblers taking ‘under’ 2.5 rounds for a +125 winner went to the counter to cash their tickets.
Just like the first fight, it was Garbrandt that hurt Dillashaw first, but the champ recovered and tagged the challenger with a right hook that landed on the temple. The punch sent Garbrandt straight to Queer Street, rocking his equilibrium to the point that he backed up to the fence on wobbly legs.
Dillashaw swarmed him with an array of punches. Garbrandt valiantly tried to hang on, getting back to his feet after he went down. But a big knee and subsequent punches by Dillashaw prompted referee Herb Dean to intervene.
The highlight of the show came in the co-main event slot, where Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson saw his UFC record of 11 consecutive title defenses come to an end when Henry Cejudo won a split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) as a +375 underdog.
Cejudo turned his ankle early in the opening round, forcing him to switch to a southpaw stance on the feet. Johnson won Round 1, but the momentum turned in the second stanza. It was back-and-forth from there with both fighters enjoying good moments.
It seemed to be 2-2 going to the fifth and final round, and a takedown from Cejudo with more than a minute remaining had to be key to the judges. Johnson got back to his feet, but the standing exchanges in the final 30 seconds seemed to go Cejudo’s way to close the deal. It was undoubtedly a decision that could’ve gone either way.
Afterward, Johnson was classy in defeat. He said he felt his knee was injured during the fight, and that an MRI this week could reveal some damage. On that note, he wasn’t demanding an immediate rematch and simply said he looked forward to welcoming his third child into the world with his wife later this month. Johnson will have plenty of options upon his return, even if he’s out for an extended period of time. There are plenty of attractive opponents for him in the 135-pound loop, too.
Cejudo called out the winner of the main event (before it went down, obviously). The gold-medal winning freestyle wrestler at the 2008 Beijing Olympics wants to move up and face Dillashaw for the 135-pound belt. In his words, Cejudo said he wants to be the ‘Champ Champ Champ’ as an Olympic gold-medal winner and two-division UFC champion.
Reinato Moicano finished Cub Swanson by first-round submission after dropping him with a straight jab. Moicano cashed as a -450 ‘chalk.’