Henry Cejudo on Demetrious Johnson title rematch: 'If I can't get him now, when am I going to get him?'

Henry Cejudo knows second chances don’t come around often in MMA, especially at the championship level. So when he shares the octagon with Demetrious Johnson for a second time at UFC 227, he intends to make the most of it.

Cejudo (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) suffered a first-round TKO loss to Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) in their first meeting back at UFC 197 in April 2016. The Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling scored an early takedown on the champ, but “Mighty Mouse” returned to his feet and landed a vicious series of knees to the body that ended the fight.

From the moment he came into MMA, Cejudo has displayed potential for greatness. His first title shot arguably came too soon in his career, but after more than two years of doing everything in his power to close the gap on the champ, he’s prepared to knock one of the sport’s pound-for-pound kings off his throne.

“There’s not too many times in life do you get a chance at redemption,” Cejudo told MMAjunkie. “It’s a second opportunity that I’m able to have. I can’t pass it up. I’m 31 years old. I’m an elite athlete. I’ve been in MMA for about five-and-a-half years now. There’s no time to waste now. I’m a fighter now. I’m officially a mixed martial artist. I’m not a wrestler no more.

“I’m seizing the opportunity. I’m smarter now. I’m faster. I’m more intelligent. The UFC and everybody sees my improvements, and they’re willing to give me a second chance. I was knocked out in my first fight. I was stopped in less than three minutes. Who would ever get a rematch getting put out like that? The way I see it is, there’s an opportunity for redemption.”

UFC 227 takes place Aug. 4 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Cejudo vs. Johnson co-headlines the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Although the first fight between them ended in one-sided fashion, Cejudo always felt that he would see Johnson again. Every win following his failed title bid felt like a step toward a rematch, but he always expressed a desire not to rush into something he might not be ready for.

Getting one UFC title shot is tough enough; two is a rarity, and three is nearly impossible. Knowing that, Cejudo wanted to be sure that when his second chance came around, he had no doubts he exhausted every avenue to ensure he’s as prepared as possible.

“If I’m going to put my body through hell, if I’m going to hurt, I would rather do it on Demetrious Johnson,” Cejudo said. “If I’m going to sacrifice my time, my body and everything, it’s on him. It’s been over two years since I fought him, and if I can’t get him now, when am I going to get him? This is why I’ve been so adamant about, ‘Give me Demetrious now.’ I’ve been spending months at a time in Brazil, in Europe, in Asia. It’s only helped me. The sacrifices have been done, and now it’s just time to display my heart in this sport.

“I respect Demetrious Johnson to the fullest. I wouldn’t travel the world and find different training partners and coaches to help me defeat this man if I didn’t want to win. I’ve traveled to Brazil, Europe, Asia – all in preparation to defeat Demetrious Johnson, to defeat the pound-for-pound best fighter in history.”

Cejudo said he’s come a long way mentally and in terms of his skill set in recent years. However, he also knows Johnson has made improvements, as well. There’s a reason Johnson is regarded as arguably the best active fighter in the sport – and perhaps of all time – but Cejudo said it’s time for a changing of the guard.

“His style will never change,” Cejudo said. “His style is always going to be different, but he’s become more patient. His timing is better, his distance is better, and he’s polishing up on all those minor details. At this stage in the game, it’s all about details. He’s done a great job with that, but I think I’m dangerous, and I can do a little bit more. I can have multiple game plans. I have a dominant base, and that’s one area where I feel good.”

For more on UFC 227, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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