Henry Cejudo put his wrestling pedigree to work, dominating Sergio Pettis at UFC 218 on Saturday in Detroit.
Cejudo, trying to continue his return from back-to-back losses to Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, wasn’t afraid to stand and trade with Pettis, but when his foe proved elusive, he went to his bread and butter Olympic-Gold-Medal-winning wrestling.
The first round was all Cejudo’s as he scored a takedown early and then dominated with control. He didn’t do a lot of damage, but had Pettis in a defensive position on his back or on all fours for the majority of the round, Cejudo continually trying to find an opening.
Round two was another solid round for Cejudo. Pettis started strong, landing a couple of punches and an inside leg kick, but Cejudo shot and forced Pettis to the canvas again. They spent much of the rest of the round on the ground, similar to round one, with Cejudo mostly working position and mounting little damage. Pettis got to his feet and out of Cejudo’s grasp, but ate a couple hard shots to the body as the round closed.
The final frame was much of the same. Cejudo was aggressive with his striking at the round’s opening, but he again planted Pettis on his back and worked position, trying to find an opening for a knockout punch, but Pettis’ defense was too good.
Pettis finally regained his feet with a minute or so left in the round, but didn’t press Cejudo, even though he had to know he needed a finish to win. Cejudo, knowing he had this one in the bank, didn’t go for broke either as time ran down.
The judges awarded the fight unanimously to Cejudo, all three scoring it 30-27.
The victory gave Cejudo his second consecutive victory since his back-to-back losses to the top two fighters in the flyweight division, but finds himself much in the same position as Benevidez, waiting for a lucky break to get back into a position to challenge for the title again.