Henry Cejudo upped the trash talk to create 'storyline' for Demetrious Johnson rematch

Henry Cejudo thought it was necessary to come out of his shell a little more than normal to secure a rematch with UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson. And it worked.

Cejudo (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) will fight Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) for the second time at UFC 227, which takes place Aug. 4 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, after losing his initial meeting with “Mighty Mouse” by first-round TKO at UFC 197 in April 2016.

For a while it seemed Cejudo would not be next in line. The UFC was working toward booking a fight between Johnson and bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw. That matchup didn’t materialize, though, and “The Messenger” ended up being the next one in line.

Cejudo, 31, said he was confident he’d be next in line if Johnson vs. Dillashaw didn’t come to fruition, but also felt the need to make sure he would be. Because of that, Cejudo poked at the champ on social media, challenging him to sign the bout agreement and promising things wouldn’t go down the same way they did the first time. It was somewhat out of character for him, but in the modern day of MMA, Cejudo is aware that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

“I come from the sport of wrestling where there’s nothing but respect on the mat,” Cejudo told MMAjunkie. “In MMA, it’s a sport, but it’s entertainment, too. Look at Colby Covington. The guy can fight and the guy can talk. To a lot of people he just grinds people out, and many people consider him boring, but because he opens his mouth, people want to watch him fight. A lot of people want to see him win, a lot of people want to see him lose. There’s more eyes on him. I’ve learned that in MMA it’s the entertainment side. I’m grasping that from now on. If I have to pick on somebody to get the fight, then that’s what I have to do, especially for the flyweight division.”

Although Johnson, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA pound-for-pound rankings, ultimately ended up taking the fight, he’s hardly taken the bait that No. 2-ranked flyweight Cejudo has put out for him.

Throughout his historic title reign, which to date has featured a UFC record 11 consecutive successful title defenses, Johnson has had little conflict outside the cage. He’s an easygoing personality who rarely engages in trash talk, so it doesn’t surprise Cejudo that the lead-up to the fight has and will continue to be a one-sided promotion.

Cejudo understands the value in being a humble titleholder who remains focused on the fight and nothing more, but also understands the value of building interest. That’s what he’s trying to do, because it would make his crowning moment of winning the title all the more spectacular.

“He’s a smart guy and he’s trying to stay in his lane,” Cejudo said. “He’s trying to do whatever it takes to get his 12th title defense. He wants to have minimal distractions in his life. It’s good and it’s bad. It’s good in that he’s winning; but the entertainment side. I’m not a bad guy by any means, but everything needs to have a storyline. There’s got to be a storyline to it.”

In the more than two years since losing to Johnson at UFC 197, Cejudo has earned dominant wins over Sergio Pettis and Wilson Reis, while also losing a controversial split decision to Joseph Benavidez. He thinks he’s made tremendous strides since the first bout, and he intends on making the most of his second chance.

“I’m seizing the opportunity,” Cejudo said. “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. That’s it.”

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

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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