Post-Fight Thoughts: Henry Cejudo -vs- Marlon Moraes
Prior to this fight taking place, I was really unsure of what to expect from it. I figured that, regardless of the winner, the fight would be a lengthy, closely fought battle that would probably end in a decision — maybe even a split, because MMA judging. Almost immediately, in the first round, this notion was cast into doubt as Moraes proceeded to batter Cejudo with kicks and punches. Even without seeing any more rounds, it seemed quite clear that someone was going to finish this fight, whether it was Moraes or Cejudo remained to be seen. Henry Cejudo was dwarfed by his opponent and absorbed a lot of damage — who could keep this up longer?
It didn't take much of the second round for the answer to that question to begin materialising. Moraes, for all the power and intensity in his high volume, damaging assault, began to visibly tire. At this point, Cejudo changed gears and began advancing and pressuring back. Giving Moraes no chance to settle in and catch his breath, Cejudo was relentless and continued to build momentum throughout the round. Moraes had gone from dishing out a one-sided beating to being put on the backfoot and trying in vain to keep space between himself and Cejudo.
The conclusion of the second round saw Moraes unable to escape Cejudo's thai clinch and absorbing knees to the body and head. Things continued to go downhill for Moraes in the third, as Cejudo picked up right where he left off in the second. Moraes, looking more and more exhausted, was now in a purely defensive mode as Cejudo continued to ratchet up the pressure. Cejdudo finally took Moraes down and, after failing on a D'Arce choke attempt, pounded him out with a flurry of punches with less-than 10 seconds left in the round. It was an impressive win, made even more so when you consider what the first round looked like.
I don't know if it's fair to say that Marlon Moraes was 'exposed' in this fight, but the fact he had one round of endurance doesn't look great. Now, Moraes is an enormous bantamweight, but that's not an excuse either, albeit a likely explanation. Cejduo also likely benefitted from the move up in weight, given his past struggles with making the 125 pound flyweight limit. Even with a clear size disparity, Cejudo's strength in the clinch was shocking to behold — and makes his TKO loss to Demetrious Johnson all the more noteworthy. This fight unfolded in a very classic fashion, as the terrifying striker emptied most of their clip in a failed effort to make it a one-round fight and was then meticuluously drowned in deep waters by a tactical wrestler.
I am not one for Greatest Of All Time debates, but Henry Cejudo, with this performance, certainly elevates himself into the discussion. Two UFC titles, an Olympic gold medal, and plenty of years ahead of him; if nothing else, Henry Cejudo has thus far lived up to the lofty expectations many had of him when he first signed with the UFC. In light of his improvements from one fight to the next, since the loss to Demetrious Johnson, it is difficult to envision anyone unseating him as either bantamweight or flyweight champ — if the latter is even a real thing anymore. There are contenders who should make for interesting fights, but Cejudo should be favoured in literally all of them.
As for Marlon Moraes, he heads back to the drawing board. While it wouldn't be absurd to see him move up to featherweight, I have no idea how realistic that is or how well his style translates to fights where he's got a size advantage. The downside of Moraes' run to the top is he notched a lot of quick finishes, who look great but don't tell you anything about how a fighter will handle a protracted, lengthy battle. This is part of the reason I don't expect Alexander Rakic or Johnny Walker to pose much of a threat to Jon Jones, I'm not sure why I didn't have the same skepticism in regards to this fight. I'm not going to say Moraes was exposed, but his next few fights will answer a lot of questions.
Published: June 15th, 2019.