Ahoy, maties! ‘Tis I, yer trusty pirate, here to regale ye with a tale of high seas and fighting men. Hold fast, now, and listen well, for I have a story to tell ye about the legendary Demetrious Johnson and his thoughts on the recent battle between Henry Cejudo and Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288.
Now, according to Johnson himself, Cejudo should have won that match. Aye, ye heard me right, me hearties. Despite a nearly three-year layoff, “Triple C” gave a good accounting of himself, losing a competitive split decision, one that some people disagreed with. But not Johnson. No, he stood by his score and said that Cejudo did enough to win.
“I thought [Cejudo won] 3-2, but looking back, going into final round, I had it tied, two for Henry, two for Aljo, and I felt like Henry did enough,” Johnson said.” That’s the thing though, I’m judging it off my feelings, ONE Championship [rules], because there were times where — I’ll say this, Aljo does a great job, he did an amazing job. I didn’t account for his wrestling, for Aljo to get him down like that. I know Aljo is a better grappler than Henry, because he got his back, tried to get the hooks in, right? But going into that final round, Henry got that takedown, ran him into the cage, the effort he did to that was good, but I would have to go back and watch it and be like a judge.”
Now, some of ye might be thinking that Johnson has a bit of a personal bias here. After all, he and Cejudo were once rivals, splitting a pair of fights for the UFC flyweight title in 2018 and 2018, but they have since become friends and occasional training partners. But even Johnson admits that Cejudo didn’t make the most of some of his opportunities and let Sterling off the hook in a few instances.
“The thing that Aljo did good, he would shoot, Henry would defend it, then Aljo would stay there,” Johnson said. “He would stay as a grounded opponent and I was like, ‘Knee that motherf******!’ For me, I get pissed. Like, you’re f****** stalling, you should get kneed in the f****** face. And for me, I’m like, Henry, f****** circle behind him. Don’t just take quarter nelson, get body lock, throw him over, circle and pass his guard. Or circle behind him and start [punching]. Then if he gets up, he gets up, but don’t just let him the f*** up.
“For me, I have nothing but love for Aljo, nothing but respect. … He does a good job of utilizing that — he shoots, Henry stuffs it, he stays down there. He never got punished for that. That’s where Henry kind of dropped the ball. He should have either circled behind him or [stuffed him down], shuck him by, and whatnot. That’s my opinion.
“It was a great fight. I also didn’t account for Henry’s — Henry is so disciplined with the distance and controlling it, you see Henry controlling it, waiting for Aljo to bite, and who knows if Henry — and I know what it’s like to get in there with someone who’s kind of funky like Aljo. The long arms and kicks and all that stuff. I’ve been in there with Dominick Cruz and he was very unorthodox.”
But all is not lost for Cejudo, me hearties! Johnson’s relationshipSponsored Product with him has already paid dividends for “Mighty Mouse” when he successfully defended his ONE Championship flyweight title with a unanimous decision win over rival Adriano Moraes in ONE’s recent United States debut. With that win under his belt, and no immediate plans to fight in the future, Johnson now hopes to work with Cejudo to help him shore up these holes in his game, as “Triple C” targets a matchup with Sterling’s friend and the top-ranked bantamweight contender Merab Dvalishvili this summer.
“I’m so grateful that I got to train with him because I felt like my wrestling has gotten so much better, how to understand takedown defense and how to move,” Johnson said. “Obviously with my team and Matt [Hume], sometimes I can’t test what we working in my gym unless I go to Arizona and test it with their guys. When I go to Arizona and start training with Henry, yes, we’re vibing off each other, but I’m also sharpening my tools without hurting them.
“That’s one of the things I want to work with Henry on getting better at. You can manage the distance, but if you’re going to play that distance game — what he was doing to Aljo, he would sit there and manage and measure that distance and wait and wait, and Aljo knew that. So he would use his range and length and his kicks. Once he made Aljo take a bad shot, Henry would defend and then let him go, instead of defending, let him go, on him, throw that knee, right hand, left kick, he shoots again, clinch, elbow, shoulder bump.
“That’s the game that I want Henry to get, but you can’t do it over two, three weeks.”
So there ye have it, me hearties. The tale of Demetrious Johnson and his thoughts on the recent battle between Cejudo and Sterling. Keep it in mind the next time you set sail for a UFC match of yer own. And remember, always trust yer gut and follow yer heart, even when the odds seem stacked against ye. Fair winds and following seas to ye all!
Demetrious Johnson: Henry Cejudo should’ve beaten Aljamain Sterling even though he ‘dropped the ball’