Henry Cejudo Changes Sean Strickland vs. Khamzat Chimaev Prediction After UFC 294: 'According To What I Saw…'

Among the biggest stories to emerge from this past weekend’s UFC 294 pay-per-view event was the arrival of a new contender in the middleweight title picture.

After rising into the top five at welterweight, undefeated star Khamzat Chimaev turned his attention to the pursuit of gold in a different division on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, where he made his return over a year on from a memorable weight debacle at UFC 279.

In the co-main event, Chimaev shared the Octagon with Kamaru Usman, a former 170-pound champion who was making his debut at 185 pounds on the back of consecutive losses to Leon Edwards.

Although “The Nigerian Nightmare” answered the call on less than two weeks’ notice following the withdrawal of Paulo Costa, he put in an admirable and competitive display across three rounds.

Usman was dominated in the opening frame, but his work in the second and third left many even believing he’d done enough for a draw. While one judge shared that sentiment, the verdicts of two saw “Borz” escape the Etihad Arena with a majority decision.

With that, middleweight titleholder Sean Strickland would appear to have a challenger in his sights, with UFC CEO Dana White branding Chimaev’s clash with Usman a title eliminator in the buildup.

Much like Strickland’s crowning against Israel Adesanya last month, “Tarzan” is seemingly being heavily counted out by a sizable portion of the MMA community. One former champion who fell into that bracket initially, however, has changed his tune.

Cejudo ‘Placing Money’ With Strickland After Chimaev’s UFC 294 Performance 

During a video uploaded to his YouTube channel following UFC 294, ex-flyweight and bantamweight titleholder Henry Cejudo reacted to the events that unfolded in the UAE and assessed the implications moving forward.

Prior to the card, “Triple C” was among those backing Chimaev to plough through Strickland should the opportunity present itself. But having seen Usman take a seemingly fatigued “Borz” to the 15-minute distance, Cejudo has had second thoughts.

“Before, I was thinking, ‘Alright, man, I think Khamzat’s gonna just murder him.’ Not really, man, not really,” Cejudo said. “Sean Strickland’s a real middleweight, and Sean Strickland will fight, and he will defend you, and he will keep fighting you. I almost feel like I’m kinda switching. This is the second time that Khamzat has fought another elite fighter (and) I can honestly now kind of gauge him and where is it that I feel he is actually at.

“I don’t know if Khamzat gets past Sean Strickland. Did he win against Kamaru Usman? One hundred percent. Could he have that power to be able to take down Sean round after round? … That third round against Kamaru he was tired… I think I do have a right to jump sides because according to what I saw,” Cejudo continued. “I think he’s in for a fight against Sean Strickland. If Sean is able to get to his feet, which I think he will, I’m placing my money with Sean Strickland.”

While it may have shaken Cejudo’s to the point of an adjusted prediction, Chimaev’s confidence remains as high as ever in the aftermath of UFC 294.

He was quick to display that on social media post-fight by sending a stern warning to Strickland ahead of their potential championship collision down the line.

Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.

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