Weekend Warrior: Cejudo Versus Dillashaw Superfight Headlines UFC’s ESPN Debut

Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC / Contributor (Getty Images) and Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC / Contributor (Getty Images)

The Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight crown was not enough to quench T.J. Dillashaw’s thirst for power.

The 32-year-old Californian will downshift to 125 pounds to challenge Henry Cejudo for the undisputed flyweight title in the UFC Fight Night 143 headliner on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Meanwhile, former NFL defensive end Greg Hardy makes his first appearance inside the Octagon, as he locks horns with Allen Crowder in the three-round heavyweight co-main event.

Meet the champion: 5 Things You Should Know About Henry Cejudo

Henry Cejudo

Henry Cejudo. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

Cejudo enters the cage on a three-fight winning streak, having dethroned longtime flyweight champion and pound-for-pound ace Demetrious Johnson at UFC 227 in August. Operating out of the Arizona-based Fight Ready MMA camp, the 31-year-old has compiled a 7-2 record since joining the UFC roster in 2014. Cejudo struck gold in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and was at the time the youngest American to ever accomplish the feat.

Dillashaw, 32, has rattled off four consecutive victories against top-shelf opposition. He last competed at UFC 227, where he cut down former teammate turned rival Cody Garbrandt with a first-round knee strike and follow-up punches on Aug. 4. The knockout moved Dillashaw to 2-0 in his head-to-head series with Garbrandt and made him a two-time bantamweight champion. A protégé of Duane Ludwig, he boasts 11 finishes among his 16 professional wins.

TJ Dillashaw

T.J. Dillashaw. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

UFC Fight Night “Cejudo vs. Dillashaw” — which streams to ESPN Plus at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT — will also feature a lightweight scrap pairing Gregor Gillespie with Yancy Medeiros, a flyweight affair pitting Joseph Benavidez against Dustin Ortiz, a women’s flyweight clash matching Paige VanZant with Rachel Ostovich and a light heavyweight battle slotting Glover Teixeira opposite Karl Roberson. ESPN (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) and ESPN Plus (6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT) will share coverage of the seven-fight undercard, highlighted by a lightweight showdown between Donald Cerrone and divisional upstart Alexander Hernandez.

Meet the challenger: 5 Things You Should Know About T.J. Dillashaw

Not to be outshined on the other side of the globe, One Championship returns to the stage with “Eternal Glory” on Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia. The fate of the promotion’s strawweight title will hang in the balance when champion Joshua Pacio toes the line against Yosuke Saruta in the main event. One Championship “Eternal Glory” streams live and free to the One Super App at 7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT, available on Android and iOS platforms.

Finally, the Legacy Fighting Alliance promotion kicks off its 2019 campaign with LFA 57 on Friday at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado. Two of the organization’s top featherweights will lock horns in the headliner, as unbeaten Factory X prospect Youssef Zalal meets Jose Mariscal. LFA 57 “Zalal vs. Mariscal” airs live on AXS-TV at 10 p.m. ET.

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