The UFC flyweight division was on the verge of elimination as just lately as 11 months in the past. Now, it might need simply produced the perfect MMA fight of 2020.
In probably the greatest fights of the yr, Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno fought to a majority draw (47-46, 47-47, 47-47) in a UFC flyweight title fight Saturday evening in the principle occasion of UFC 256 in Las Vegas. Figueiredo, the defending flyweight champion, retained the title due to the draw. It was solely the fourth draw in UFC championship historical past.
“We want a rematch,” Moreno, the primary Mexican-born fighter to compete for a UFC title, stated in his postfight interview. “We want that rematch. I feel so. For myself, for Figueiredo, for the followers, for everyone. For the game, in fact.”
UFC president Dana White referred to as Figueiredo-Moreno the perfect fight in UFC flyweight historical past and stated he “completely, positively” needs a rematch to occur.
“That is one other enjoyable fight for all of us to look ahead to in 2021,” he stated.
The bout was crammed with wild, arduous exchanges. Each males tagged one another with arduous mixtures and head kicks. When it appeared like one had momentum, the opposite would come roaring again with arduous blows.
“If they need to put him in entrance of me subsequent fight, I am open to that,” Figueiredo stated.
Figueiredo stated in his postfight interview that he had a abdomen an infection Friday evening and was in the hospital till 2 a.m. Saturday morning.
In February, Figueiredo missed weight forward of a bout with Joseph Benavidez for the vacant flyweight title. He ended up beating Benavidez by second-spherical TKO, leaving the belt vacant as a result of he was ineligible to change into champion after lacking weight.
At that time, the way forward for the division was unsure. The UFC spent late 2017 and 2018 paring down the division with whispers that it will be abolished. Quick-ahead to current day and the flyweight division has now headlined back-to-back UFC pay-per-view playing cards to end the yr.
White credited UFC co-matchmaker Mick Maynard for rebuilding the flyweight division, which he referred to as “some of the thrilling divisions in the UFC now.”
“And tonight, we placed on potential fight of the yr and potential biggest fight in division historical past,” White stated.
This was the quickest turnaround for both a champion or challenger in UFC historical past. Figueiredo and Moreno each competed at UFC 255 on Nov. 21 — simply three weeks in the past. At UFC 255, Figueiredo completed Alex Perez by way of guillotine choke — the quickest submission in UFC flyweight historical past (1 minute, 57 seconds) — and Moreno beat Brandon Royval by way of first-spherical TKO.
When the UFC misplaced its scheduled UFC 256 important occasion — a bantamweight title fight between champion Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling — the promotion tabbed Figueiredo and Moreno to fill in. They usually did so with an epic encounter.
Figueiredo, identified for his first-spherical barrages, stalked Moreno early, transferring ahead and touchdown arduous photographs. However Moreno, not like many Figueiredo opponents, wouldn’t go away. In actual fact, Moreno had robust moments in the second, together with an enormous overhand proper and an enormous mixture on the finish of the spherical.
Issues acquired a bit bizarre in the third. Figueiredo landed a straight left kick beneath the belt, which despatched Moreno to his knees. Referee Jason Herzog deducted some extent from Figueiredo for the unlawful, damaging blow.
“The referee did his job,” Figueiredo stated.
Moreno got here again with an enormous fourth spherical crammed with lengthy mixtures — punches to the physique and to the top and head kicks. Figueiredo, although, was ready to muster a robust end in the fifth regardless of being drained. Within the closing seconds, he used a judo throw to toss Moreno on his head after which rating by way of floor-and-pound.
Judges Sal D’Amato and Junichiro Kamijo each scored the bout a draw. D’Amato had Figueiredo successful the primary and fifth rounds and the third 9-9 due to the purpose deduction. Kamijo had it 9-9 in the third, with Figueiredo successful the primary and second rounds. Decide Derek Cleary had it 9-9 in the third, with Figueiredo successful the primary, second and fifth rounds.
ESPN had Figueiredo ranked No. 7 in the world on its MMA pound-for-pound record going in. Figueiredo and Moreno are ranked Nos. 2 and three, respectively, at flyweight by ESPN, behind former UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson, probably the greatest fighters of all time.
The cardboard occurred contained in the UFC Apex, a venue throughout the road from the promotion’s Vegas company campus. It was the ultimate pay-per-view of 2020 for the UFC, which was the primary main sports activities group again after a coronavirus-associated hiatus.
Figueiredo (20-1-1) is unbeaten in six straight and 10 of 11 in the UFC general. Nicknamed “God of Battle,” Figueiredo stopped Benavidez by way of first-spherical TKO in July to win the vacant flyweight title. This was his second title protection. Figueiredo, 32, is tied with Johnson with essentially the most finishes in UFC flyweight historical past (seven).
“My followers are used to seeing a knockout in the primary spherical, however I fought all 5 rounds and I believed I placed on an amazing efficiency,” Figueiredo stated.
Moreno (18-5-2) is unbeaten in six straight with a 7-2-2 UFC document general. “The Murderer Child” was lower by the UFC in 2018 after dropping two in a row. On the time, the promotion was contemplating dropping the division. Moreno, 26, gained the Legacy Combating Alliance title exterior the promotion in 2019 and was then introduced again to the UFC simply three months later. He’s 3-0-2 since being launched.
“Main up this week, [Moreno] was telling everyone that his hero is Julio Cesar Chavez,” White stated, referring to the legendary Mexican boxer. “When individuals bear in mind him and his profession, he needs to be remembered like a Julio Cesar Chavez. Whenever you have a look at typical Mexican fighters, he’s the prototype. … He regarded rattling good tonight.”