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Cejudo (14-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC), the UFC’s flyweight champion, said he respects Moraes (22-5-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) ahead of their UFC 238 main event this week – a fight that will see the winner crowned the new bantamweight champ.
The stakes obviously are high for Cejudo, who would become just the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold two belts at the same time. But there have been some words thrown his way by Moraes.
“I respect him,” Cejudo said Monday at a media lunch in Los Angeles ahead of the fight. “I really do. I respect Marlon, even though he doesn’t think very fondly of me. I respect him as a fighter.”
UFC 238 takes place Saturday at United Center in Chicago. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass.
Cejudo, an Olympic wrestling gold medalist, and the first in UFC history to win Olympic gold and a UFC title, said he knows Moraes has the power to put his lights out. But he thinks he’s got what it takes in both his head and his heart to combat that.
“I know he has the ability to knock me out,” Cejudo said. “I’m in that game, and I accept that. I accept there’s a 50 percent chance I may win. I may lose, especially against a competitor like that.
“But I’m going out there with the most intelligent mind. He’s never faced a competitor like me – not a fighter, a competitor. I will find a way to beat you. So you better put me to sleep or tap me out, but I will find a way to beat you.”
Cejudo has won four straight fights, including a flyweight title rematch with former longtime champ Demetrious Johnson at UFC 227 in August 2018. In January, ex-bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw dropped down to flyweight to try to take Cejudo’s belt there, but Cejudo took him out withi a 32-second TKO.
Subsequently, Dillashaw tested positive for EPO and currently is serving a two-year suspension. Before the term was handed down, he relinquished his belt knowing the suspension was coming. And that made it vacant, leading to the UFC 238 title fight between Cejudo and Moraes.
Moraes has four straight wins, too – including three straight finishes and three straight “Performance of the Night” bonuses. The former WSOF bantamweight champion is unbeaten since his UFC debut loss to Raphael Assuncao.
But the accolades he has are ones Cejudo thinks he can top.
“Find the greatest comeback athlete of all time – I believe that’s me,” Cejudo said. “And I believe fighting for this second belt, I’m going to cement it even more.”
For more from Cejudo, check out the full video above.
News | MMA Junkie