UFC 238 Aftermath: Three Takeaways from Chicago

Henry Cejudo UFC 238
Henry Cejudo Credit: Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com

UFC 238 took place in Chicago this past Saturday, and there’s a lot to talk about coming out of the card.

UFC 238 was one of the most stacked cards of the year, with a slew of ranked fighters along with the two title fights at the top of the bill. In the main event, we saw Henry Cejudo make history as he defeated Marlon Moraes for the vacant UFC bantamweight title. In the co-main, we saw Valentina Shevchenko defeat Jessica Eye with one of the best knockouts of the year, as she defended her flyweight title.

Here are some takeaways from that card last Saturday.

Henry Cejudo is quickly making his case for the greatest of all time.

Just a little over two years ago, Henry Cejudo was coming off of two losses in a row and was beginning to just look like another victim of Demetrious Johnson’s success. Cejudo first got his shot at DJ’s crown at UFC 197 after winning his first four bouts in the Octagon. Cejudo would go on to get dominated, quickly losing via TKO in the first round. He then followed this up with a loss to Joseph Benavidez that December.

Cejudo then took nine months off to hone his skills, and improve. He returned at UFC 215 against Wilson Reis, and looked like a brand new fighter. Showcasing his new striking skills, he dominated the former title challenger on the feet, and finished him in the second round. Cejudo then followed up his win over Reis with a suffocating performance against the rising Sergio Pettis. This win over Pettis secured him a second shot at long-reigning champion Demetrious Johnson.

Henry Cejudo would then pull off one of the greatest upsets in MMA history, defeating Johnson via split decision in a highly entertaining bout. Cejudo’s win ended Johnson’s record title defense streak, and gave him his first loss in seven years. Cejudo, in his post-fight interview, would call out that night’s headliner and bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. A call out that Dillashaw would answer. The fight for Cejudo’s flyweight championship was then set for the first-ever ESPN card in 2019.

Cejudo made quick work of the bantamweight champion, finishing him in 32 seconds. Following the fight, Dillashaw tested positive for EPO, and was stripped of his bantamweight title. Cejudo was then scheduled for a championship bout against Marlon Moraes at UFC 238, and after showcasing his championship heart early, Cejudo finished the number-one contender in the third round, to secure his second championship.

Henry Cejudo’s turnaround has been nothing short of amazing, while the talent has always been there, we’re now seeing it all on full display. Cejudo’s current winning streak has some of the greatest names of the sport, and as Cejudo is defeating former champions and capturing belts, he’s quickly cementing his place as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

And he’s got a gold medal.

Tony Ferguson needs to fight for the lightweight title after Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirer.

Imagine living in a world where a fighter could be on a 12-fight winning streak within the UFC, and there was still debate on if he deserves a title shot next or not. Well, sadly, you don’t have to imagine. After Tony Ferguson’s TKO win over the surging Donald Cerrone at UFC 238, there was talk of a rematch due to controversy with the stoppage. Cerrone was hit with a strike after the bell, moments before the fight was stopped. It’s worth noting that this strike didn’t hit Cerrone on his eye, which is the reason the fight was stopped.

Tony Ferguson is sadly the victim of a developing sport where the UFC can’t figure out if they want to be more entertainment than sport, or the other way around. Conor McGregor is being discussed for the winner of the lightweight championship bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirer in a couple of months. While the bout makes sense through the idea of McGregor having history with both of them, it doesn’t make sense when you realize you have an active lightweight who is currently on a 12-fight winning streak in the UFC’s most stacked division.

Conor McGregor is a giant star, yes, but if this is truly a “sport”, Tony Ferguson needs the next crack before McGregor. Tony Ferguson’s resume reads like an all-time lightweight rankings list, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos, Josh Thomson, and Kevin Lee, are just some of the excellent names that Tony Ferguson has beaten during his 12-fight winning streak. The last time Tony Ferguson lost in the UFC, women weren’t even in the UFC.

But sure, the guy who hasn’t won since 2016 deserves a title shot over him.

Valentina Shevchenko is going to dominate for a while.

Valentina Shevchenko faced off against number-one flyweight contender Jessica Eye at UFC 238, and what ensued was complete and utter domination from the champion. After dominating Eye in the opening frame, she went and finished the fight with one of the most brutal knockouts of the year, a Mirko Cro Cop-esque head kick knockout.

It’s worth noting that dominating is the only thing Shevchenko has done since going down to flyweight. In her three fights since moving down to 125, Shevchenko has only lost a single round. That being in her championship winning effort against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231. It’s also incredibly hard to look at the flyweight top-15 and see anyone posing any threat to Shevchenko. It’s worth noting that Liz Carmouche defeated Shevchenko nine years ago, but Shevchenko has noticeably improved leaps and bounds since then.

While her reign is just now beginning, it’s hard to not see Shevchenko holding that belt for a long time. It is a new division, so it’s going to take some time for talent to get there. Women’s strawweight wasn’t exactly a talent-rich division when it opened, it took time for talent to get there. The same will likely happen for women’s flyweight as well.

But in the mean-time, expect Valentina Shevchenko to run through the division.