Henry Cejudo defends the UFC bantamweight title against former two-time UFC featherweight Jose Aldo at the main event of UFC 250 which is scheduled for May 9, 2020, at the Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Cejudo relinquished the UFC flyweight belt to focus on defending his latest title. Aside from being a two-division UFC world champion, Cejudo is a former Olympic gold medalist in wrestling. The 33-year old Cejudo had been demanding a fight against Aldo since the latter’s bout last December. Aldo is the UFC’s inaugural featherweight king and arguably the best 145-pound titlist in UFC history. Since losing the title to Max Holloway in 2017, Aldo has not held a belt and has moved down to the 135-pound division. Aldo lost to Marlon Moraes via split decision in his bantamweight debut but most pundits believe he won that fight.

“Fighting" The Messenger

Cejudo is currently ranked 3rd in the UFC’s pound for pound rankings. The fighter known as “The Messenger” won Olympic gold in the 55kg division at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games and is a three-time gold medalist in the Pan-American games. Cejudo transitioned to MMA in 2013 and fought initially for the World Fighting Federation in Arizona. After becoming the #1 ranked prospect in the bantamweight division, he was signed by the UFC in 2014.

Cejudo’s unbeaten record came to an end when he was knocked out by Demetrious Johnson at UFC 197 in his first crack at the world title. Four bouts later, he earned another crack at Mighty Mouse and then produced the Upset of the Year when he defeated Johnson by split decision at UFC 227. He became the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold two world titles simultaneously when he annexed the 135-pound belt with a TKO of Marlon Moraes at UFC 238.

The Messenger stands just 5-4 tall and has a reach of 64 inches and is an orthodox fighter. Cejudo lands an average of 3.82 significant strikes per minute at a 44% accuracy rate. He has a 65% strike defense and absorbs only 2.73 significant strikes per minute. On the ground, he averages 2.16 takedowns per 15 minutes and has a 90% takedown defense. He has completed a total of 8 takedowns in his last four bouts. Since suffering back to back losses to Mighty Mouse and Joseph Benavidez, he has won five straight bouts, three by way of knockout. Cejudo has a record of 17-2 with seven knockouts.

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“Fighting" The Greatest Featherweight Ever

Jose Aldo Jr. is widely regarded as the greatest featherweight ever in MMA. The 33-year old from Manaus, Brazil is a two-time undisputed featherweight champion and one-time interim champion. Aldo was the fourth and final WEC featherweight champion who was promoted to inaugural UFC featherweight champion during the merger of the two promotions. Junior is currently the 6th ranked bantamweight contender in the UFC and is also 11th in the UFC featherweight rankings.

Aldo began his MMA career at Shooto Brazil and Jungle Fight before arriving in the United States to fight under the WEC banner. He knocked out Cub Swanson at WEC 41 to earn his first title shot. Aldo then knocked out Mike Brown at WEC 44 to win the WEC featherweight title. He made two successful title defense before the merger of the WEC and UFC. He made a record seven title defense under the UFC before his infamous 13-second knockout loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 194. He reclaimed the belt by defeating Frankie Edgar but lost it right away to Max Holloway in his first defense. Aldo lost again to Holloway in a rematch.

The Brazilian stands 5-7 tall and has a reach of 70 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance. Aldo lands an average of 3.47 significant strikes per minute at a 44% accuracy. He absorbs 3.18 significant strikes per minute and has a 65% strike defense. Aldo averages less than one takedown per 15 minutes at 0.65 and has a 91% takedown defense. Aldo has been outstruck in four out of his last six bouts but has been taken down just once in his last eight bouts. Aldo has a record of 28-6 with 17 knockouts and one win by submission.

“Fighting" Who Wins?

Aldo is coming off a loss to Moraes and that’s why he opened as a 2-1 underdog in this fight. But if you watch the tape, it appeared that Aldo did more than enough to beat Moraes in that close encounter so he may be a deceiving underdog here, especially with all the championship experience he has. When Aldo jumped down to bantamweight, many thought he would be weakened by the weight cut but as we saw in the Moraes fight, he looked healthy and even rejuvenated. It will be interesting to see if we see that same version of Jose Aldo in this fight.

Cejudo is coming off a big 2019. He knocked out T.J. Dillashaw to defend his flyweight belt and then moved up in weight class to defeat Marlon Moraes for the bantamweight title which was vacated after Dillashaw was suspended.

He underwent shoulder surgery after that win and will defend his 135-pound belt for the first time against a living legend. The Messenger has been the underdog in his last three fights but he’s won all three convincingly. This will be the first time since 2017 that he’s favored to win a fight.

Aldo doesn’t give his opponents plenty of room to work with. He is one of the most vicious leg kickers in the business and he baits his opponents to throw punches so he can land his powerful right hand. He has been a bit tentative lately and looked gun-shy at times against Moraes, and that’s perhaps the reason why the decision went to his opponent.

Cejudo started his MMA career doing what he knows best. The Messenger completed nine takedowns in his first four UFC bouts. But after he was knocked out by Mighty Mouse Johnson, Cejudo has reinvented his game. His striking has dramatically improved and in his last three bouts, he’s shown knockout power. But what impressed me really was Cejudo’s durability when he absorbed plenty of punishment from Moraes but was able to weather the storm and beat his opponent.

I think we are going to see fireworks here because Aldo should be determined to win a second weight class. Cejudo has been the bully in his recent fights and if Aldo can rekindle his old fire, he is going to be on the offensive as well. I think that Aldo has a real shot of winning this fight because he has the technical ability and experience to do so. However, I think the wear and tear of a long career have taken its toll on Aldo and he has been gun shy as of late. Cejudo is on a tear and I think he has the perfect mindset to win this fight. He’s not afraid of the moment.

Early Prediction: Henry Cejudo

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