It all started back in August, when after five hard-fought rounds in the UFC 227 co-headliner, the unthinkable happened: Demetrious Johnson lost his flyweight belt. For the first time since the division’s inception back in September 2012, the crown had a new home, wrapped around the bulbous dome of former Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo.
The immediate reaction was mixed. Many decried the judge’s scorecards, pointing out that “Mighty Mouse” had handily outstruck “The Messenger” and questioning how much weight the latter’s takedowns should have been given, with his lack of submission attempts or damage inflicted on the ground. Others reacted with enthusiasm, suggesting that the new champion, with his Mexican-American heritage and Olympic pedigree, could provide the perfect proxy for the Ultimate Fighting Championship to make inroads into the long-sought-after Latin American market. A very sizeable section of the MMA community set about clamoring for a rubber match, Johnson having won the first encounter in their series via a blitzkrieg of knees and elbows back at UFC 197.
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