Dana White believes Henry Cejudo could be the first double champion to actually defend both of their titles if he wins at UFC 238.
Cejudo, the UFC flyweight champion, is moving up to bantamweight to fight Marlon Moraes for the vacant belt in the pay-per-view main event on Saturday in Chicago. If he wins, he’ll be the fourth fighter in company history to hold two titles simultaneously, and the seventh to win belts in two different divisions.
White, the UFC president, expects Cejudo will continue to fight in both divisions if he beats Moraes — unlike other past two-division champs like Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier, who only focused on one division. (For what it’s worth, it’s still unclear if Amanda Nunes, who’s booked in a bantamweight title defense, plans on ever defending her women’s featherweight title.)
“This guy believes — and I do, too — if he gets past Marlon on Saturday, he believes that he can hold both belts and defend them both at the same time,” White told ESPN on Wednesday. “I love to give guys the opportunity for greatness — to hold two belts at the same time, which is a very hard thing to do, or to win two belts in two different weight classes. Nobody’s actually stuck around and defend both. I believe that Cejudo can be that guy. He’s a guy that wants to achieve things that nobody’s ever done, and that’s the way to do it.”
Cejudo won the 125-pound title last year with a split-decision over pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson, who at the time was the UFC’s only ever flyweight champion. He defended it for the first time in a superfight against then-bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, whom Cejudo knocked out in under a minute. Dillashaw was suspended two years by USADA for a positive drug test, which led to the vacant title bout between Cejudo and Moraes.
Since Johnson’s upset loss to Cejudo, “Mighty Mouse” has left the UFC and moved on to Asia’s ONE Championship. Johnson held the title for six years and broke the record for most title defenses, but never resonated with fans much. The pay-per-view cards he headlined never sold very well.
White said he believes fans simply did not care about Johnson — not the entire flyweight division. Their feelings toward Cejudo, White said, may be different.
“I had a guy who was completely dominant,” White said of Johnson. “Every time he fought he was exciting, always went for the finish. But people didn’t care. Nobody cared whatsoever about Demetrious Johnson. And Cejudo might be that guy that people actually care about.”
Asked why Cejudo is seemingly already more popular than Johnson ever was during his UFC title reign, White said it “definitely” isn’t Cejudo’s “King of Cringe” gimmick — including the bizarre costume he wore to UFC 238 media day on Thursday.
“I think it’s what he does inside the Octagon — beating Demetrious Johnson, then turning around and destroying T.J. the way that he did,” White said. “That’s what people care about. They don’t care about top hats, and canes, and capes, and crowns, and all this stuff — they care about your fighting style.”