Henry Cejudo had his legs kicked out from under him in the first round at UFC 238, but took over the fight from there, knocking out Marlon Moraes in the third to win bantamweight gold.
Henry Cejudo is an Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling who signed with the UFC at 6-0 in 2014. He won in his first four Octagon appearances to earn a title shot against one of the greatest fighters of all time in Demetrious Johnson. After a loss in that title shot, Cejudo was on the wrong side of a controversial decision against divisional stalwart Joseph Benavidez. He rebounded with two straight wins to get another shot at Mighty Mouse, and made the most of it by becoming the first flyweight to ever defeat Johnson. “The Messenger’s” first defense came against then-bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who he knocked out in 30 seconds in February.
Marlon Moraes was regarded for a long time as one of the best fighters outside the UFC. “Magic” defended the WSOF bantamweight title six times and came to the promotion on a 13-fight win streak. After dropping his Octagon debut to the durable veteran Raphael Assuncao, Moraes went on a tear, winning his next four fights and stopping the latter three in the first rounds. Wins over Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera, and the aforementioned Assuncao got him here.
Marlon Moraes went for a leg kick and a head kick early on. He then went to the body, but Cejudo was out of range. Moraes med Henry Cejudo with a combination when the latter tried to come in with a strike. Low kicks landed several times for Moraes, who avoided Cejudo’s first takedown attempt, a single leg. Neither man was landing cleanly, aside from Moraes’ brutal leg kicks. It was a great start to the fight for Moraes.
Moraes stuck with the kicks to start the second round, and Cejudo tried to answer with more aggression. Cejudo landed a nice combination, but Moraes was still controlling the fight at kicking range. A leg kick swept Cejudo off his feet briefly, but this seemed to wake up the flyweight champion. Cejudo seemed to start landing right hand after right hand. He began using the Muay Thai clinch to land many knees to the head. Cejudo was battering Moraes, but was caught with a right hand at the very end of the round that hurt.
Cejudo kept the pressure on in the third round. More right hands landed for Cejudo on a seemingly out of it Moraes. An eye poke paused action briefly, but Cejudo went back to work. Right hand after right hand, knee after knee. Cejudo then went to the clinch and snapped down into a D’Arce choke. Moraes escaped, but Cejudo had top position. He postured up and landed huge ground-and-pound to finish the dazed Moraes near the end of the round. Incredible performance by Cejudo to win his second belt.
Henry Cejudo def. Marlon Moraes by TKO (Punches) in Round 3 (4:51)