A fight for the vacant UFC bantamweight title has yet to be booked, but potential opponents Marlon Moraes and Henry Cejudo are already going at it on social media.
Moraes told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani Wednesday he believes he deserves to be one of the two fighters to compete for the vacant belt. The Brazilian suggested Cejudo, the current UFC flyweight champ, not move up and instead stay at 125 pounds.
“That’s my fight,” Moraes said. “I’m very confident the UFC will pick the right opponent for me. Cejudoweight? Tell Cejudo to stay in his lane. We all saw what happened with T.J. changing weight classes last time.
“If he is thinking about bringing his little ass up to 135, he is in big trouble.”
T.J. Dillashaw failed a Jan. 18 drug test ahead of his fight against Cejudo at UFC Brooklyn, it was announced Wednesday. As a result of that, Dillashaw relinquished the bantamweight title. The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) suspended him one year and fined him $10,000. He is still facing sanctions from USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner.
In January, Dillashaw dropped down to 125 pounds to challenge Cejudo in an attempt to hold two UFC titles simultaneously. Dillashaw lost via knockout less than a minute into the first round. It was Cejudo’s first title defense after the winning the belt last summer against Demetrious Johnson.
Since the news of Dillashaw’s positive test, bantamweight contenders Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz have been campaigning for a shot at UFC gold — presumably against Moraes, who is almost a guarantee to fight for the title. Cejudo is on the shortlist of potential opponents for Moraes, too, as he was actually targeted to fight Dillashaw for the bantamweight title in a rematch before the doping news came to light.
Cejudo responded to Moraes on Twitter, listing off some of his accolades. “The Messenger,” who has fought at bantamweight before, made it clear he is not scared of Moraes.
“I was the youngest Olympic gold medalist. I am the UFC flyweight champion and I just knocked out a PED user in 32 seconds,” Cejudo wrote. “You think I’m afraid of a World Series of Fighting former champion? Lol.”
I was the youngest Olympic gold medalist. I am the UFC flyweight champion and I just knocked out a PED user in 32 seconds. You think I’m afraid of a World Series of Fighting former champion? Lol https://t.co/cxlm6Xevg9— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) March 21, 2019
Moraes responded to Cejudo, implying that the flyweight champ should defend his title before getting too ahead of himself and moving up in weight to challenge for a second strap.
“Stay humble my friend take care of your business I will take care of mine or You’ll strike out with me worse than you did with that WWE girl,” Moraes wrote.
Stay humble my friend take care of your business I will take care of mine or You’ll strike out with me worse than you did with that WWE girl #bantamweightdivision— Marlon Moraes (@MMARLONMORAES) March 21, 2019
To which Cejudo replied with, “Oh look at the WSOF champ acting all tough now. Good one Magic Man did Ali write that one for you?” Moraes and Cejudo have the same manager in Ali Abdelaziz.
Oh look at the WSOF champ acting all tough now. Good one Magic Man did Ali write that one for you?— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) March 21, 2019
The UFC’s plans regarding the 135-pound title are as of now unclear.