Henry Cejudo’s best chance to beat T.J. Dillashaw was supposed to be to outwrestle him. Instead, the 125-pound champion dominated Dillashaw with his fists.
It took just 32 seconds for Cejudo to successfully defend his UFC flyweight title Saturday night at Barclays Center. The champion, headlining the first UFC card on ESPN, initially wobbled Dillashaw with a leg kick and then finished him with powerful strikes that Dillashaw never had a chance to defend. It was reportedly the fifth-fastest knockout in UFC history.
Dillashaw objected to the stoppage. But the 135-pound bantamweight champion, who had gone down 10 pounds to try to win a second belt, took enough damage for referee Kevin McDonald to stop the bout.
“I was able to beat one of the best of all-times,” Cejudo said. “It’s surreal. I knew he was hurt. I caught him with the leg kick on the chin and saw he wobbled and the rest was history.”
Cejudo said he would move up to 135 pounds and challenge Dillashaw for his belt.
“Let’s do it again,” said Cejudo, who won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling at the 2008 Olympics.
Dillashaw remained upset about the stoppage. He had gone down to 125 to challenge Cejudo and easily made the weight. But it might have weakened his ability to take a hard punch.
“I got clipped and you could feel it,” he said. “But I was in it the entire time. It sucks when something is taken from you and you’re not actually beaten. Congrats to Cejudo, but he didn’t beat me.”
In the co-main event, former NFL defensive lineman Greg Hardy was disqualified for throwing an illegal knee in the second round of his heavyweight fight with Allen Crowder.
Hardy, who had reached the second round for the first time in his short MMA career, was grappling on the canvas with Crowder when he began to get on his feet. Crowder still had a knee down when Hardy launched his right knee into Crowder’s temple in an illegal maneuver. Crowder couldn’t continue and Hardy was disqualified in his UFC debut. Hardy (3-1) began his MMA career after his football career ended prematurely due his arrest and prosecution on domestic abuse charges.
The heavyweight matchup was part of a main card that featured six fights after a lengthy prelim lead-up that began four hours earlier. Light heavyweight Glover Teixeira started things by submitting Karl Roberson in the first round. Then Paige VanZant submitted Rachael Ostovich in the second round of their women’s flyweight bout.
Ostovich was fighting two months after being the victim of a serious domestic abuse attack that led to her husband’s arrest. Veteran Joseph Benavidez of Las Cruces, N.M., earned a unanimous decision in a flyweight rematch over Dustin Ortiz, while Gregor Gillespie of Long Island improved to 13-0 with an impressive stoppage of Yancy Medeiros on punches in the second round of their lightweight match.
The preliminary bouts shown on ESPN were highlighted by Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s second-round stoppage of the mouthy Alexander Hernandez. Other winners include Joanne Calderwood, Alonzo Menifield and Cory Sandhagen.
Meanwhile in Las Vegas, Staten Island boxer Marcus Browne captured the WBA light heavyweight title with a unanimous decision over Badou Jack. Browne, a 2012 Olympian, out-boxed and bloodied Jack throughout the bout to earn his first world title.