Deiveson Figueiredo makes the first defence of his UFC flyweight title in the main event of UFC 255 on November 21 – will it be a successful outing for the ‘God of War’ when he faces Alex Perez at the UFC APEX?
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Figueiredo made an immediate impression on the flyweight division after arriving on the scene in 2017, reeling off four straight victories and stopping three of his opponents. That streak was brought to a shuddering halt at the hands of Jussier Formiga in March of last year, but Figueiredo’s response to a first career defeat was an emphatic one that resulted in UFC gold being strapped around his waist in July.
He bounced back from his first career loss by besting Alexandre Pantoja in a three-round tussle that earned ‘Fight of the Night’ honours, and there would be no need for the judges a few months later as he wrapped up 2019 with a first-round stoppage of Tim Elliott, who had no choice but to tap out to a guillotine choke. That victory earned him a crack at the vacant flyweight title in February of this year and although he took out Joseph Benavidez with strikes inside two rounds, Figueiredo did not leave the arena with the belt after failing to make the weight limit.
The cut would not a be a problem when the two men fought for a second time in July though – the 32-year-old Brazilian met the 125lb weight limit and then proceeded to make even quicker work of Benavidez. Figueiredo sank in a rear-naked choke with less than 30 seconds remaining in the round and although his opponent did not give up, the referee had no choice to step in when Benavidez went limp. It was an impressive display from the new champion, but can he now cement his status as the number one man in the division with a victory at UFC 255?
Providing the opposition will be Alex Perez who, just like Figueiredo, had to bounce back from some early adversity after inking a deal with the UFC. The 28-year-old Californian earned himself a shot at the UFC by recording a first-round stoppage win on Dana White’s Contender Series, but after reeling off three straight wins as a UFC fighter his momentum was stalled by the man who has just lost twice to Figueiredo, Joseph Benavidez. Perez was hurt early in that one and never truly recovered as he was dominated and stopped by strikes inside five minutes.
That loss was the fifth of Perez’s career, but he bounced back a few months later to best Mark De La Rosa in a bantamweight fight and then made a highly successful return to the flyweight division in January of this year by making Jordan Espinosa tap out to an arm-triangle in just two minutes and 33 seconds. His next outing, in June of this year, was not quite as quick, but it was another emphatic win for Perez as he showcased his all-round game by stopping Jussier Formiga with strikes. The question is can he now make it three-in-a-row at flyweight to dethrone Figueiredo?
My answer to that question is ‘no’. Figueiredo was downright impressive in the way that he dispatched Benavidez not once but twice, and Perez is a man who has been stopped no less than four times in his career. Benavidez was able to hurt him and stop him early just two years ago and Figueiredo has the power and ability to do something very similar here. He will hurt Perez early in this one and ruthlessly go in for the kill. 16 of Figueiredo’s 19 career wins have come via KO/TKO or submission and that should become 17 of 20 as he takes out Perez to reaffirm his ranking as the number one man at flyweight.