The UFCâ€™s flyweight division hasnâ€™t seen much in the way of drama over the years.
The tone is set by the business-like approach at the top by longtime titleholder Demetrious Johnson and trickles down throughout the division. There have been fine fights by talented athletes at 125 pounds, but little in the way of Ken Shamrock–Tito Ortiz style drama.
But Henry Cejudo, of all people, just might change that.
â€¨The Olympic gold medalist wrestler hasnâ€™t been one to talk trash over the years. But Tim Elliott got under his skin during the filming of The Ultimate Fighter 24, and he doesnâ€™t want Elliott, who has designs on moving up to bantamweight, to leave the division without a fight.
â€¨â€œI was with him on The Ultimate Fighter show for six weeks, and I always felt he always had something to say every time I said something,â€� Cejudo said on Mondayâ€™s edition of The MMA Hour. â€œEvery time I said [something], he always had a little smirk to his face, it was something that was just different and it always bugged me.â€�
Cejudo coached opposite Joseph Benavidez on The Ultimate Fighter 24. Elliott, who was coached by Benavidez, won the tournament, then fared surprisingly well in a unanimous decision loss during a shot at Johnsonâ€™s flyweight belt.
But comments made by Elliott during the show have stuck with Cejudo to this day.
â€œDuring the show they had asked all the contestants â€˜what do you feel about the two coaches?â€™â€� Cejudo said. â€œThey asked about Joseph and they asked about me. And of course they asked Elliott what do you think about Henry Cejudo and the first word that came out of his mouth was â€˜fake.â€™ And Iâ€™m like â€˜oh okay, so Iâ€™m fake.â€™â€�
â€œHe goes off, beats two of my guys on The Ultimate Fighter show that I coached and he has a good performance against Demetrious and a lot of people applaud him, and now he wants to leave the flyweight division,â€� Cejudo continued. â€œAnd I just said, hold on, hold on, hold on. you ainâ€™t leaving the flyweight division without getting a piece of â€˜The Messenger.â€™ You said some things and now itâ€™s time to man up.â€�
With Elliott saying he wants to go up to 135, Cejudo says heâ€™ll go there and beyond if thatâ€™s what it takes to get the fight.
â€œI would meet Tim Elliott at 135. At heavyweight if he wanted. I want to fight Tim Elliott. I want to fight him.â€�
Part of the matter is that there arenâ€™t many other options that make sense for Cejudo at the moment. Johnson appears on track to fight bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw and perhaps there could be a rematch with Benavidez, who won their TUF coaches fight via split decision, when the latter returns from injury.
That only makes the grudge match with Elliott all the more apearking.
â€œHe called me boring, he called me fake, but yet, when he says heâ€™ll fight anybody, he wonâ€™t do it. So you either man up or apologize. Thatâ€™s kind of how I feel about it.â€�
â€¨Elliott, for his part, replied to Cejudo on Twitter:
Henry,I am extremely sorry that I beat up your team on “tuf” I am sorry you are so sensitive, and can not take a joke. I am sorry that you are 5 foot 2 inches tall, and have still missed weight several times. There is no benefit fighting a boring wrestler that can’t make weight.
â€” Tim Elliott (@TElliott125) February 12, 2018