Can Dominick Cruz cause a major upset against Henry Cejudo at UFC 249

  • Everyone seems to have written off Dominick Cruz ahead of his title clash against Henry Cejudo
  • With his style, Cruz could pose a lot of problems for Cejudo inside the Octagon
Modified 08 May 2020, 08:33 IST

Henry Cejudo is pegged as the favorite to win this fight
Henry Cejudo is pegged as the favorite to win this fight

On the face of it, few will consider the possibility of an upset in the fight between Dominick Cruz and Henry Cejudo. Many MMA experts have given their opinion on this bout and there's common consensus regarding the verdict; A competitive fight which Cejudo who has heaps of momentum behind him, clinches in the end, beating former champion Cruz who hasn't fought for almost 4 years.

On the "Weighing In" Podcast, both Josh Thomson and Big John McCarthy opined that Cejudo will trump Cruz in athleticism and speed. He has superior wrestling credentials and even though Cruz has a game based around being elusive, at 35 years of age, he wouldn't be as fast as Henry and is bound to get caught. Similarly, Dan Hardy gave Cejudo the edge in the fight, and so did Like Thomas and Brian Campbell in their show "Monday Morning Kombat". 

On many accounts they are correct. Henry Cejudo is a world-class athlete. He is one of the most accomplished combat sports athletes of all time with two division titles in UFC and a gold medal in the Olympics. If we keep the whole "cringe" persona aside, you have to admit what Henry has done inside the octagon is exemplary.

Beating Demetrius Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, and then claiming the title at Bantamweight by beating Marlon Moraes is quite a run. His fight against Moraes where he was banged up and outclassed in the first round only to bite down on his mouthpiece and dominate the next rounds was one of the greatest comebacks in a UFC title fight. Right now at 31, Cejudo is fit, active and as his recent transformation depicts, he's in crazy shape before the fight and in the eyes of many, he's still getting better.

Cejudo seems to be in stunning shape for this fight
Cejudo seems to be in stunning shape for this fight

Speaking of Cruz, at the age of 35, what could we realistically expect from him? For starters, he possesses one of the best fight IQs in the game. Even while recovering from injuries he's still been a part of the sport as an analyst and has been acknowledged by many to have one of the more astute minds in the business. We can also tell by looking at his history that he has done all of this once already.

Cruz already has one of the best comeback stories in MMA history when he came back from multiple knee surgeries and a prolonged hiatus to win the Bantamweight title from TJ Dillashaw. He already knows how to do it and someone as cerebral as Cruz would not do something as reckless as taking up a fight if he didn't think he had a chance to win.

If we compare records, Cejudo won a split decision against Demetrius Johnson while Cruz beat "Mighty Mouse" convincingly; Cejudo stopped a depleted and shrunken version of TJ Dillashaw at 125 pounds(even that was considered to be a controversial stoppage) while Cruz coming off an extended layoff beat TJ Dillashaw in a split decision to win the Bantamweight title. Either way, Cruz stacks up pretty well against Cejudo. 

Cruz has already once made a successful comeback
Cruz has already once made a successful comeback

Will Dominick Cruz be able to shock the world?

So while the experts are correct in picking Cejudo over Cruz for this one, can we discount Dominick here? If someone like TJ Dillashaw could end up with a striking accuracy of just 30% against Cruz then it clearly shows how tough it is to land a clean shot on him. Sure he's 35, and sure age could slow his timing but until we see it ourselves we are only making assumptions.

Cruz is not depleting himself to make 125lbs as TJ Dillashaw did, neither is he going to get caught up in a dogfight and tire himself out as Moraes did in later rounds. He's going to stay on the outside, keep distance and stay as elusive as always. Will he be able to do it for 5 rounds? Will Henry catch him? Henry is not as skilled as a striker as TJ Dillashaw is and if TJ couldn't KO Cruz in 5 rounds then it's going to be a tall order for Henry to do the same.

So yes, If we talk about momentum and age then Cejudo has an edge over Cruz but in UFC, styles make fights and while Cejudo is one of the greatest sports combat athletes of all time, I'm going against the perception here and backing arguably the greatest Bantamweight of all time, in Dominick Cruz to win the title and script another great comeback story. Let's see how the cookie crumbles on this one as UFC hits the road this weekend.

Published 08 May 2020, 08:33 IST
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