NEW YORK -- Henry Cejudo might have just saved the UFC's flyweight division.
Cejudo (14-2) defended his flyweight championship for the first time at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in a stunning 32-second finish of bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who agreed to move down in weight in pursuit of a second title.
It was the fifth-fastest knockout or TKO in a title fight in UFC history.
The 125-pound fight headlined the UFC's first event on ESPN+ at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and it was nearly over before it started.
Cejudo clipped Dillashaw (16-4) with a right hand to the temple and never let him recover. As Dillashaw grabbed Cejudo's leg to slow things down, Cejudo threw a barrage of left hands to force the finish.
It was a remarkable result for a fight that might have affected an entire division.
The UFC considered closing the 125-pound division after Cejudo won the title in August against all-time great Demetrious Johnson, and it probably would have done so had Dillashaw won.
"This win was for every flyweight out there that wanted the opportunity to fight for a world title someday," Cejudo said. "I did this for all those little guys who will never make it to 135 pounds. It's sad they let go of half of the roster. Don't underestimate the little guys. The flyweights. I'm out and taking out the bantamweight champ. What's not exciting about it?"
Dillashaw, who fought at 125 pounds for the first time Saturday, appealed the stoppage to referee Kevin MacDonald immediately after the bout, saying that he was ready to keep fighting.
He continued to voice his displeasure at the postfight news conference.
"I am leaps and bounds better than Henry Cejudo. I believe that. I didn't get a chance to prove it," Dillashaw said. "I'm pretty F'ing bitter right now. I'm pretty pissed off. I worked my ass off, bro. I'm about to f---ing cry.
"I came in, I felt great. I felt really good. I thought it was gonna be fireworks for me tonight. I got dealt a s---ty card."
Dillashaw upset about referee stoppage
TJ Dillashaw says that he was speaking with the referee before the stoppage and wants a rematch with Henry Cejudo.
UFC president Dana White agreed with Dillashaw, telling ESPN that it was "a bad stoppage."
"It was definitely an early stoppage," White said. "You're talking about two of the best fighters in the world, two world champions. Let them win or lose the fight, you know what I mean? Let T.J. lose that fight. It was a bad stoppage. I'm not taking anything away from Cejudo, because Cejudo went out there and started busting him up and took it right to him, hurt him. ... But in a fight like that, you gotta let the guy win or lose the fight."
Cejudo said he hoped to discuss the future of the flyweight division with White, saying, "I'm not going to be part of a division if they are just going to get rid of everybody."
White told ESPN that he didn't know what he was going to do with the division, or if he would give Dillashaw an immediate rematch with Cejudo.
Cejudo, for his part, promised Dillashaw they would do the fight again -- at Dillashaw's home of 135 pounds. Dillashaw is still the 135-pound champion.
"TJ, we'll do it again," Cejudo said in the Octagon. "This time we'll go to 135. Thank you for the opportunity. I know the weight cut was a lot. I'll give you another shot at 135 pounds. Let's do it again."
Dillashaw also called for a rematch with Cejudo, but said he wanted the fight to come at 125 pounds again.
"This s--- needs to happen again, at flyweight," he said. "This is bulls---. I worked 12 weeks to have this stolen from me in seconds.
"If I'm gonna lose, I want to lose. Congrats to Cejudo, but you did not win. You did not win this fight. I am happy to accept defeat, but I did not lose."