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MMA SQUARED, Stories of 2019: The rise of Henry Cejudo and fall of TJ Dillashaw

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Two men on collision course dominated the first half of the year with vastly different career trajectories.

Chris Rini, MMA Squared, Henry Cejudo, TJ Dillashaw, ESPN, UFC, Marlon Moraes, Chris Rini

Henry Cejudo entered 2019 seemingly desperate to make a splash. His gold suit and rubber snake routine was a marketing move for the ages. We were laughing, but we were looking.

Chris Rini, MMA Squared, Henry Cejudo, TJ Dillashaw, ESPN, UFC, Marlon Moraes,
This is from the caption contest, and “I was told it was metaphorical!” by It’s Always Raining in Negadelphia still makes me laugh. bravo.
Chris Rini

Dillashaw by contrast, commanded headlines due to the extreme nature of his weight cut which proved to be his concussive undoing.

Chris Rini, MMA Squared, Henry Cejudo, TJ Dillashaw, ESPN, UFC, Marlon Moraes, Chris Rini

Cejudo seemed poised to own the lower weight classes having beaten the Mouse & the Snake.

Chris Rini, MMA Squared, Henry Cejudo, TJ Dillashaw, ESPN, UFC, Marlon Moraes, Chris Rini

The linchpin of the lower weight class saga emerged when TJ Dillashaw was busted for using EPO in the state of New York, inspiring one of my favorite drawings of the year which is based on the 1933 movie, King Kong (hence the biplanes).

Chris Rini, MMA Squared, Henry Cejudo, TJ Dillashaw, ESPN, UFC, Marlon Moraes, Chris Rini

Cejudo seized the moment and met Marlon Moraes at 135 pound for Dillashaw’s vacated title.

Chris Rini, MMA Squared, Henry Cejudo, TJ Dillashaw, ESPN, UFC, Marlon Moraes,
With his massive head of hair, the wolverine-esque sideburn-beard, and the gold medal, Cejudo is a delight to draw.
Chris Rini

Cejudo prevailed over Moraes in a fantastic come-from-behind victory, but his glory was cut short by a shoulder injury rendering him the most compelling fighter of the first half of the year. Oh, what could have been.

Chris Rini, MMA Squared, Henry Cejudo, TJ Dillashaw, ESPN, UFC, Marlon Moraes, Chris Rini

I hope you enjoy this year-end series on the Stories of 2019. It’s fascinating how a narrative starts to emerge for some fighters as the months unfold. For all his cringe, Henry Cejudo emerged as a person to watch (regardless of how painful).

Take care of yourself and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Chris