Henry Cejudo, left, kicks Demetrious Johnson during their UFC flyweight title mixed martial arts bout at UFC 227 in Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Cejudo upsets Johnson, Dillashaw stops Garbrandt at UFC 227

August 05, 2018 - 12:05 am

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Henry Cejudo ended Demetrious Johnson's nearly six-year reign as the UFC flyweight champion Saturday night, earning a split-decision victory in a stunning upset at UFC 227.

T.J. Dillashaw also defended his bantamweight title with a vicious first-round stoppage of former champ Cody Garbrandt at Staples Center, beating his friend-turned-rival for the second time in nine months.

Cejudo (13-2) is an Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler who only started training in mixed martial arts five years ago, but he used five takedowns and relentless offense to earn the decision over one of the most dominant champions in UFC history. Cejudo won 28-27 on two of the three judges' scorecards to beat Johnson (27-3-1), who had won 13 consecutive fights since 2012 and had defended his 125-pound belt a UFC-record 11 straight times.

"This is a dream come true, from Olympic gold medalist to UFC champion," Cejudo said. "I was born right here in Los Angeles, in a two bedroom apartment. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to these fans in California for their support."

Johnson, who didn't appear to be upset with the judges' call, was the only flyweight champion in UFC history. Although successful in striking, Johnson didn't have his usual resourceful performance in his return from a career-long layoff of 10 months. Johnson knocked out Cejudo in the first round of their first meeting in 2016, but Cejudo showed off everything he had learned in the interim.

In the main event moments later, Dillashaw (17-3) exchanged furious strikes with Garbrandt (11-2) from the opening minute. Dillashaw finished it by stunning Garbrandt with a series of strikes, dropping the challenger and then battering him against the cage until referee Herb Dean stopped it with 50 seconds left in the first round.

Dillashaw and Garbrandt trained together in Sacramento until 2014, when Dillashaw left in a messy breakup with the Team Alpha Male gym.

Dillashaw held the 135-pound title belt before losing it to Dominick Cruz, but Garbrandt then took it from Cruz less than two years after he entered the UFC. Dillashaw and Garbrandt met for the first time last November, and Dillashaw stopped him in the second round.

Cejudo was born in Los Angeles, and he won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling as a 21-year-old phenomenon in 2008, becoming the youngest American to win a gold medal. He only started training in mixed martial arts in January 2013 — four months after Johnson first won his UFC belt.

Cejudo won his first 10 pro fights to earn his first shot at Johnson, but Mighty Mouse stopped him with a flurry of punches in the first round of their first meeting 28 months ago. Cejudo earned a rematch thanks to two straight rebound victories and the utter lack of more compelling contenders for Johnson, who had been content to stay at flyweight instead of chasing bigger-money bouts at bantamweight, where he fought earlier in his career.

Right before the title bouts on the top-heavy show, Brazilian featherweight Renato Moicano (13-1-1) finished Palm Springs veteran Cub Swanson (25-9) in the first round with a rear naked choke.

The show was the UFC's first in three years in downtown Los Angeles, and the first since local entertainment conglomerate Endeavor bought the promotion for $4 billion in 2016. The luminaries at cageside included Matt Damon, Chris Pratt, Miles Teller, Mickey Rourke and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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