Saturday marks the anticipated debut of UFC's 2019 partnership with ESPN, which will carry UFC Fight Night 143 from Brooklyn, andpits champion vs. champion in Henry Cujedo and TJ Dillashaw.
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After Thursday's press conference for the Barclays Center showcase, it's already a good bet that Cejudo and Dillashaw's bout will be far more intense than any promotions for the fight.
Combat sports have a knack for bringing out the bizarre at weigh-ins and other pre-fight events, but you're going to struggle to find a more awkward confrontation than what occurred at Thursday's press conference between the current flyweight champion and reigning bantamweight champ.
Dillashaw, as is well documented, has embraced a "snake" moniker ever since Conor McGregor deemed him a "snake in the grass" during "The Ultimate Fighter." So after telling TMZ he's going to "behead that snake" and bragging to other reporters it's "the year to skin the snake," Cujedo took things a step further Thursday, taking the conference stage with a life-sized fake snake, then whipping it against the ground, inspecting it as if to confirm its death and tossing it into the crowd -- all in front of an emotionless Dillashaw.
It sounds like a lot of fun until you actually see it.
Has there ever been something so cringe-worthy? Hyperbole aside, Cejudo really embraces his role here. But the whole thing is just ... off. From Cejudo letting out a yell in an otherwise quiet room as he slams the snake to him pretending like he's actually a threat to go after Dillashaw at center stage, the entire production is a little odd, and it hasn't exactly hyped fans for their actual fight, either.
Just for that act, I want TJ to win this fight.— Lord Voldemort (@Am_NickHill) January 17, 2019
This is the cringiest thing I’ve ever seen. Actually made me want to watch the fight less— Alex Gaynor (@alexgainer_) January 17, 2019
Even so, Dillashaw's move to a lower weight class remains the hottest item on the UFC Fight Night 143 card, with the future of the flyweight division up in the air -- and potentially at stake in this fight by Cejudo.
The two will officially square off from Barclays Center, where former NFL player Greg Hardy will also make his promotional debut, once Fight Night 143 begins at 10 p.m. ET.