Henry Cejudo (16-2) earned a referee stoppage to beat Dominick Cruz (22-3) with just two seconds left in the second round to successfully defend his bantamweight title at UFC 249 from Jacksonville, Fla. In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, the 33-year-old Cruz announced his retirement from the sport, as he’s got “nothing left to prove.”
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Cejudo opened the bout chopping away at Cruz, aiming to slow down his eccentric fighting style early. Cruz didn’t lose a step, but spent much of the first round feigning, reading and reacting. To open the second, Cruz began to piece together his movements and strikes, hitting low with kicks and finishing up top with quick jabs. While Cruz snapped a handful of shots, Cejudo stayed with the game plan and continued to snap leg kicks. Late in the round, a clash of heads opened a a gash on Cejudo. After a momentary break, Cejudo caught Cruz with a brutal knee and finished him with a ref stoppage with seconds left in the round.
In his first fight of 2020, Cejudo returned from shoulder surgery that derailed his stellar 2019 to join just Daniel Cormier has the only fighters to successfully defend their titles in multiple weight classes. Cejudo ends his career with one of the most impressive runs in the organization’s history. After joining the UFC as an Olympic gold medalist, he beat the legendary Demetrious Johnson, knocked out T.J. Dillashaw in his flyweight title defense and TKO’d Marlon Moraes to win the vacant bantamweight belt.
Cruz hadn’t competed in the UFC since he lost the bantamweight crown against Cody Garbrandt in late 2016. Injuries have kept him out of the Octagon as of late, but he was preparing for a return against a top contender, looking to earn his way back into a title fight. Instead, he slid ahead of other top contenders to face off with Cejudo. The future of the bantamweight division is now filled with uncertainty, but Cruz is expected to be heavily involved in the title picture.