Cejudo’s striking in his last pair of bouts changed the scene even if one of them was a loss. Previous to those fights, Cejudo was a long ways off from a rematch with “Mighty Mouse,” but his improvements were so dramatic that Cejudo already was back in a title eliminator match up.
On the other hand, Pettis has developed into a surprisingly sound title contender. He was still a bit raw when the UFC first picked him up — understandable given his age — but “SP” came into this clash with four-straight wins and a fair bit of momentum behind him.
Both men worked from wide stances, but Pettis operated as a Southpaw. Early on, Pettis was exceptionally sharp, as he fired crisp jabs, long kicks, and landed a counter left early. Cejudo took note as well, dropping down into a double leg and spinning his opponent to the mat.
Once on top, Cejudo showed his world class wrestling. Pettis tried to turtle and stand, but Cejudo repeatedly sat him back to his hip or spun to the front head lock. It was really a masterclass in top control, as he allowed Pettis to build up a bit before snapping him back down.
The Olympian didn’t do a ton of damage until the final 10 seconds, but he clearly captured the first round.
Listening to his coach’s corner advice, Pettis fired more kicks at the start of the second. They landed heavily, and Pettis continued to look sharp, jabbing and stuffing his foe’s first takedown attempt.
Unfortunately, a slip sent Pettis to the mat, and Cejudo jumped on him. This time, Pettis did a better job of maintaining guard in search of a stand up. It didn’t happen, but Pettis was able to get back to his feet with 45 seconds remaining.
He wasn’t able to get much going before the end of the round, meaning Cejudo was most likely up 2-0 with five minutes remaining.
Pettis stood his ground in the pocket in search of a big shot, and both men landed as a result. The straights of “SP” were landing best, but a single leg from the Olympian planted Pettis on his back once more.
Pettis was trapped in turtle and guard for the third time, this time able to stand up with 70 seconds remaining for Pettis to score a finish. The kickboxer slowly advanced and intently looked for opportunities, but Cejudo kept his guard high and feinted for takedowns.
Pettis didn’t find his moment, and Cejudo was awarded the decision.
There’s not too much to analyze from Cejudo. Whenever he got deep on a shot, he sent his opponent to the mat. Once there, Cejudo’s control was excellent, as he made Pettis carry his weight and stole his energy.
I don’t know how much it says about his ability to rematch Demetrious Johnson successfully, but a 30-27 win over a top contender is still a big deal.
For Sergio Pettis, this critique is going to sound pretty rude, as it’s really the ultimate case of “easier said than done.” Pettis’ biggest issue was an inability to get up from takedowns quickly, and a partial reason for that was Pettis attempt to stand/scramble from the turtle without fighting hands first. Against a good wrestler — a description very safely applied to Cejudo — it’s absolutely imperative to break the grip and control a hand before attempting to get up.
Otherwise, you’ll be yanked, snapped, and slammed backed to the ground unceremoniously.
For the first minute of every round, Pettis’ kickboxing was nasty. He was the sharper man who made the most of his range, but he just couldn’t keep it on the feet long enough for that to matter.
Last night, Henry Cejudo reverted to his wrestling roots to dominate his opponent. How do you like Cejudo’s chances in a rematch opposite the Flyweight kingpin?
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