I feel I might need been mistaken about Deiveson Figueiredo.
Previous to UFC 255, which was a whopping three weeks in the past, I stated I did not know if Figueiredo was the man to make folks care about the flyweights, a minimum of to a diploma they have not earlier than. I believed it was extra probably Figueiredo can be a part of a greater coalition — a group of flyweights who would make the division pop by means of aggressive fights.
Properly, there wasn’t something aggressive about Figueiredo’s fast dismantling of Alex Perez on Nov. 21, and now right here he is defending his title once more three weeks later within the quickest turnaround by a defending champion in UFC historical past. Figueiredo — The Fig? Figgy? Figgy Smalls? I really feel like there’s one thing right here — is positively making use of his model to flyweight.
Figueiredo (20-1) is poised to cap off a large 2020 marketing campaign in fashion, as he defends his 125-pound belt in opposition to Brandon Moreno (18-5-1) in the principle occasion of UFC 256 on Saturday on the promotion’s Apex facility in Las Vegas. If he is profitable, Figueiredo would presumably be a close to-unanimous choose for fighter of the 12 months — and it could arrange a excessive-profile struggle in opposition to former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. (Unless other plans intervene.)
It will be fascinating to see the place issues go for Figueiredo, on a number of fronts. Clearly, from a aggressive standpoint, he has been exceptional, however there are nonetheless loads of challengers for him and a few unanswered questions. This weekend, as an illustration, I am curious to see if Moreno can get him to later rounds, and in that case, how the champ will look as soon as he is there.
His future exterior of that, although, is simply as intriguing. Figueiredo has the look and elegance of a champion folks will care about. And he appears to have a pure expertise at taking part in one thing of a villain. As a struggle will get nearer, he is acquired a nasty streak to him, which stands proud. And his fixed predictions of first-spherical finishes will not get previous if he continues to ship on them.
However we’re speaking about a division during which the final two champions (a) left the promotion unceremoniously after years of failing to resonate with fans and (b) left the division in lower than a 12 months to maneuver up a weight class after which retire due to (partly) a lack of huge-cash fights. Historical past suggests it is arduous for a 125-pound champion to interrupt down the wall of stardom.
Which is why I stated three weeks in the past that I wasn’t able to anoint Figueiredo as the person to do it. But when he retains doing what he is doing, he ought to show me mistaken in little or no time.
By the numbers
21: Days it will have been on struggle evening since UFC 255, the Nov. 21 card on which each Figueiredo and Moreno competed. Saturday’s struggle represents the quickest turnaround for a champion (the earlier UFC document was 56 days, shared by Ronda Rousey and Matt Hughes) and likewise the quickest for a challenger (earlier document: 28 days by Derrick Lewis).
4: UFC champions who received the belt and their first title protection each by first-spherical end. Figueiredo is the most recent, becoming a member of two-division champion Amanda Nunes (who did it at bantamweight), heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and former heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia.
0: Fighters born in Mexico who’ve received UFC championships. Moreno, born and raised in Tijuana, is vying to develop into el primero.
63.6: Proportion of great strike makes an attempt that Moreno has efficiently defended within the UFC, the third-greatest protection amongst lively flyweights. Figueiredo is additionally within the prime 10, at 52.1%.
7: Finishes within the UFC by Figueiredo, tying him with former champ Demetrious Johnson for probably the most in flyweight division historical past.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Info and UFC Stats
5 vs. 5
Deiveson Figueiredo’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Alex Perez (Sub1, Nov. 21, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Joseph Benavidez (TechSub1, July 19, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Joseph Benavidez (TKO2, Feb. 29, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Tim Elliott (Sub1, Oct. 12, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Alexandre Pantoja (UD, July 27, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Brandon Moreno’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Brandon Royval (TKO1, Nov. 21, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Jussier Formiga (UD, March 14, 2020; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Kai Kara-France (UD, Dec. 14, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Draw: Askar Askarov (SD, Sept. 21, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Maikel Perez (TKO4, June 7, 2019)
Dom & Gil’s movie research
Gilbert Melendez on the baffling strategy of Figueiredo:
Dominick Cruz focuses on the left hand of Moreno:
And the winner is …
I am all aboard the Figueiredo practice at this level. I believed all three of his fights thus far in 2020 can be aggressive, and he completed them within the second spherical, first spherical and first spherical. So I am not selecting in opposition to this man once more anytime quickly. I like Moreno’s sturdiness, his confidence and his cardio. If this goes into the fourth and fifth rounds, I feel we’ll have a very fascinating struggle on our fingers. However I am completed doubting Figueiredo’s ending means. Figueiredo by submission, second spherical.
How one can watch the fights
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There’s additionally FightCenter, which presents reside updates for each UFC card.
Saturday’s struggle card
PPV (by way of ESPN+), 10 p.m. ET
Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs. Brandon Moreno | Males’s flyweight
Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira | Light-weight
Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba | Strawweight
Jacare Souza vs. Kevin Holland | Middleweight
Junior Dos Santos vs. Ciryl Gane | Heavyweight
ESPN2/ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET
Cub Swanson vs. Daniel Pineda | Males’s featherweight
Renato Moicano vs. Rafael Fiziev | Light-weight
Gavin Tucker vs. Billy Quarantillo | Males’s featherweight
Tecia Torres vs. Sam Hughes | Strawweight
ESPN+, 7:30 p.m. ET
Chase Hooper vs. Peter Barrett | Males’s featherweight
(c) = defending champion
A co-fundamental-occasion occasion that is second to none
Ferguson is a busy physique: He has landed 1,051 vital strikes at light-weight within the UFC, the third most in division historical past. Ferguson has 14 wins at 155 kilos, placing him behind solely Donald Cerrone (19) and Francisco Trinaldo (15) through the time since he made his UFC debut in 2011.
Oliveira is a showstopper: He has 16 UFC finishes, tying him with Cerrone for probably the most in historical past. He has finishes in his previous seven fights, the second-longest streak in UFC trendy-period historical past (Anderson Silva, 8). Oliveira’s 14 submission wins within the UFC stand alone as a document. General in his profession, he has a 93% end charge, with 27 stoppages (19 subs, 8 KOs) in 29 wins.
Six extra issues to know (from ESPN Stats & Info)
1. Kevin Holland, who faces middleweight veteran Jacare Souza, is in search of to develop into the third fighter within the UFC’s trendy period to go 5-0 or higher in a calendar 12 months, becoming a member of Neil Magny (2014) and Roger Huerta (2007).
2. If former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos beats undefeated Ciryl Gane, it could be his sixteenth UFC win, tying him with Frank Mir for the second most amongst heavyweights, behind Andrei Arlovski (19).
3. Cub Swanson will be looking for his twelfth UFC victory when he fights Daniel Pineda. That will transfer Swanson into sole possession of third place on the featherweight wins checklist, behind Max Holloway (16) and Darren Elkins (14).
4. Jiu-jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern, who faces Brazilian strawweight Virna Jandiroba, will be in search of her fourth submission win within the UFC, which might break a tie (with Rose Namajunas and Cynthia Calvillo) on the prime of the all-time strawweight submissions checklist. Jandiroba has received two strawweight fights by submission, so getting one in opposition to Dern would add her to the tie on the prime of the checklist.
5. Tecia Torres faces UFC newcomer Sam Hughes, who took the struggle this week after Angela Hill needed to pull out. Torres has seven strawweight wins, one shy of ex-champ Carla Esparza for the second most in division historical past.
6. Chase Hooper, a 4-1 favourite in opposition to featherweight Peter Barrett, is the youngest fighter on the cardboard at age 21. Hooper is in search of to develop into the twenty fifth fighter in UFC historical past to win a number of fights earlier than turning 22. That checklist contains former champions Vitor Belfort, Robbie Lawler, Jon Jones and Max Holloway.
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this struggle preview.