UFC 249 Betting Pick: Henry Cejudo vs Dominick Cruz

My instinct and my sensible mind are conflicted!

What to do with this pick? When I first heard that Dominick Cruz was coming back from the broadcast booth to challenge Triple C Henry Cejudo, my first thought was that Cruz can beat him.

Dominick has the footwork to befuddle almost anyone in the UFC, that is as long as your name is Cody Garbrandt. That was the last time we saw the aptly-named Dominator in action.

Having trouble remembering? That’s okay. You could still run for president… December 30th of 2016 seems like a decade ago at this point. Thanks 2020!

Dominick Cruz was running through the 135-pound Bantamweight Division for years until he ran into Garbrandt, who simply had his number. Cody has struggled mightily since but he made Cruz look human and he whooped him in style.

Cruz was on an 11-fight win streak from his days as the WEC champ and throughout his entire UFC career until he ran into the handsome kid from Ohio.

The story with Dominick has been knee injury after knee injury after… Well, you get it.

After defeating Demetrious Mighty Mouse Johnson to defend his UFC Bantamweight World Title in October of 2011, Cruz would take a full 3 years away from the Octagon. He tore his ACL twice in three years and there was a nasty infection thrown in there for good measure.

He made his comeback in September of 2014 against Takaya Mizugaki, one of the top Bantamweights in the world. Cruz looked incredible and dispatched the Japanese superstar in 1 minute and 1 second.

My gym threw him an after-party at one of the Vegas nightclubs on The Strip. I was lucky enough to share a few words with Dom that night but he was laser-focused even at the afterparty.

I’ve been around fighters for 15 years and even the most straight-edge guys will loosen up after they compete.
The next day it hit me. He had 3 years off and only got 1 minute of cage time in his return.

Then, I started to think about all of the rehab, physical pain, emotional pain, and then the frustration of having it tear again. Seeing how serious and focused he was even with everyone around him loose drinking Goose made me turn a small corner in my life.

I was having so much fun training and hanging with these UFC guys that I had lost not only my edge but my purpose as well. Even though I wasn’t a professional fighter like my peers at the time, I made sure I trained like one every day.

I will always be a fan of Dominick for that reason. He has his hands full against the Olympic Gold Medalist and two-division UFC World Champion, Henry “Triple C” Cejudo.

BetOnline.AG has some betting odds for us. Let’s break down this matchup and make our predictions!

Henry Cejudo (-225) vs Dominick Cruz (+190)

OVER 4.5 ROUNDS
-205
UNDER 4.5 ROUNDS
+165

I blabbed about Dominick a little much in the intro so I will get right into the champ.

Henry Cejudo was born in Los Angeles, California in 1987. Both of his parents immigrated here as undocumented workers from Mexico City, Mexico and they started a beautiful successful family of 7 children including their future Olympian, Henry.

After moving more than 50 times as a young child, Cejudo was able to sleep in a bed by himself for the first time when he competed for USA Wrestling.

Children of immigrants are more often than not very hard-working and can be incredibly successful. They realize how fortunate they are and aren’t the type to let an opportunity slip away.

We could go on all day on this guy’s bio. He went on to win Gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the raw age of only 21-years-old.

It wasn’t until 2013 that Henry “started” training for MMA. I threw the quotations on there to remind us that he has been training for mixed martial arts competition his entire life. He just didn’t know it yet.

After winning his first 4 UFC fights, he ran into Mighty Mouse Demitrious Johnson and was hurt by knees to the body from the clinch and quickly finished.

Henry lost his next fight to Joseph Benavidez by split decision and it was beginning to look like the Olympic Gold Medalist wasn’t championship material in the UFC.

He went on to rematch the Flyweight World Champion Demetrious Johnson and edge out a split decision over a man some were calling the #1 pound for pound fighter in the world at the time. Great fight!

Next, he welcomed the UFC Bantamweight World Champion TJ Dillashaw down to 125 pounds and starched the striking specialist in seconds.

TJ had no business cutting all that weight. To say he looked like death was a compliment. Dillashaw also popped positive for EPO, an endurance performance enhancer, and was stripped of the 135 belt.

Henry then went up to Bantamweight to fight the feared Brazilian striker Marlon Moraes for the vacant world title.

After getting knocked around in the first 5 minutes, Cejudo shifted his approach and took the striking battle directly to Marlon.

Before the end of the 3rd, Moraes had nothing left physically, mentally, or emotionally and Henry was able to put him away with strikes. It was on this night that Triple C was born. Two-division champ and a Gold Medalist!

This had never been done before and the ever-confident second-generation American proclaimed himself the greatest combat athlete of all-time. Those short guys, I tell ya.

No, seriously, the claim is well-supported by evidence but there are plenty of arguments to be made otherwise. I’ll spare you that soapbox lecture today.

We Have a Fight to Pick!

4 inches of height and 4 inches of reach will be a big advantage for Cruz. Nobody has been better at controlling the range of a fight at 135 pounds in the history of modern MMA.

He is so shifty! Maybe that’s why he kept blowing his knee out because even his joints didn’t know what direction he was going.

How do I see this one playing out? I think Dominick will win the first round and maybe even the second. Henry’s explosiveness just doesn’t seem to fade, though.

He needed it for the win and Henry was somehow able to shoot and blast double leg takedown and secure it on Mighty Mouse in the 5th round of their world title fight. That’s with him cutting 10 more pounds than he will have to this week.

If Cejudo still had his plodding style of striking, I could see Cruz continually dancing circles around him but Henry likes the Karate/Boxing style stance that Conor McGregor has made popular. Nobody is talking about the movement of Cejudo. It’s pretty good as well.

Dom is just so smart, though. He may be the most intelligent fighter in the UFC right now and he was the one to call out Henry as he interviewed him after Cejudo won the belt against Moraes.

I think, and this is just me, but I think Cruz has been studying and training specifically for Cejudo for years now. Just like Cody Garbrandt did to take his title, Cruz is employing the same all-in strategy to dethrone Henry.

There are just so many unknowns going into this fight. 3.5 years off for Cruz…

That’s a long time and he is 35 now and that is right around the time that a fighter’s reflexes start to fade. Smaller boxers and MMA fighters get older quicker.

They rely on those reflexes and reaction time more so than the bigger guys, therefore when it goes, they are on their way down. I am 38 now and have experienced this. It sucks! I see the punch coming in time but I don’t react quickly enough. It’s a scary feeling.

What’s interesting to me is even though their betting odds are more than 2 points apart, the odds for each to win a decision are almost even.

Henry is (+180) and Dom (+205) to win by way of the judges’ scorecards. I could see Cejudo getting the finish on Dom but still not likely. I definitely don’t see Cruz putting the champ away. I really like the value we are getting here on Henry Cejudo to win a decision.

My Picks
CEJUDO BY DECISION

In Conclusion

This one is going to be interesting.

I really don’t like going against my gut and as much as I believe in Dominick Cruz’s ability to come back better than ever, Cejudo is a dog, man.

If Cruz were fighting a guy he could break mentally, I would throw my money at him. He’s not breaking this guy, though. Some are saying he is already in Henry’s head. I don’t know.

Cejudo has won a gold medal in the Olympics, dethroned Mighty Mouse, and even went up a weight class to win the belt over a frightening Brazilian knockout artist.

We will see if Cejudo tries too hard to get to Dom but it would likely behoove him to make the challenger come and take the belt. Will the matador do his thing or will the bull blast his way to the win?

This fight is probably going to a decision and Henry is probably going to win. I don’t mind combining these two probabilities for 2 to 1 odds.

Enjoy the fights, guys!

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.