UFC 238: Henry Cejudo or Marlon Moraes, Who Will Become the New King at 135?

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Henry Cejudo UFC 227 UFC Brooklyn
Henry Cejudo Credit: Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com

At UFC 238, flyweight champion Henry Cejudo will move up in weight to face Marlon Moraes for the chance to become the new bantamweight champion.

The suspension of TJ Dillashaw has left a vacuum to be filled at the top of the bantamweight division. Four top contenders will be in action but only two will be competing for the honor of claiming UFC gold. Flyweight champion Henry Cejudo will look to become a two-division champion while Marlon Moraes aims to add UFC gold to his trophy case for the first time.

Current flyweight champion Henry Cejudo has had an incredible seven months, upsetting longtime king Demetrious Johnson and then stopping Dillashaw in under a minute. Outside the cage, he has fully embraced “Cringejudo” and been more outspoken than earlier in his career. To get an idea of what that entails, just try counting the times that Cejudo will mention being an Olympic gold medalist in any given interview.

Looming over the fight is the idea that the UFC intends to fold the flyweight division. Cejudo maintains that he will do whatever it takes to keep the division open and return to 125 pounds after Saturday night. A number one contender fight for the flyweight division is set to be contested later this month between Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga. However, the top bantamweight contender is also set to be determined as Aljamain Sterling faces Pedro Munhoz on Saturday night. All of which means that the next step for Cejudo will leave one party on ice regardless of who he chooses.

This is implying that Cejudo can overcome surging contender “Magic” Marlon Moraes. The former WSOF champion has slaughtered the competition in his last several fights, needing less than a round to stop the likes of Raphael Assuncao, Jimmie Rivera, and the aforementioned Sterling. Long considered one of the best talents not in the UFC, Moraes was the unanimous top contender prior to the removal of Dillashaw from the title picture. Now with an opportunity to claim gold, Moraes hopes to embark on his own championship reign on Saturday night.

The big questions going into the fight revolve around how the move up will affect Cejudo. Moraes is one of the more powerful athletes at 135 and should look to use his physicality to put pressure on Cejudo. Using leg kicks to chop away at his mobility and being willing to throw power shots in the pocket are all keys to taking an early lead against the flyweight champion. The early rounds will be essential as that is when Cejudo will be his freshest. If Moraes executes his strategy early, he should be ahead on the scorecards in the later rounds and have a more compromised Cejudo at that time.

Cejudo’s strategy should be to counter-attack the more explosive Moraes. Unlike 125, where he is one of the bigger athletes and can use his size, he should look to get in-and-out with precise strikes. Moraes will be looking to load up and do damage when he throws so Cejudo must stay disciplined on the outside and look for opportunities to change levels when the Brazilian overcommits to his strikes. While Moraes is an impressive grappler, Cejudo should be able to maintain top position.

The top bantamweight contender will be the winner of the fight between Sterling and Munhoz who meet earlier at UFC 238. Should Marlon Moraes be victorious, then the next step is simple. Should Henry Cejudo claim a second championship, then the question will be which fight makes more sense in the larger picture. If the flyweight division is folded, then the Benavidez vs. Formiga winner will be left in uncertainty while Cejudo takes on the top contender at 135.

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