Deiveson Figueiredo makes the second defence of his UFC flyweight title in just 21 days when he takes on Brandon Moreno in the main event of UFC 255 on December 12, but will it be another successful outing for the ‘God of War’ or will the historic turnaround be too much?
While 2020 has been a year to forget for many fighters, it has been one to remember for Figueiredo. He false-started in February when a botched weight cut meant his second-round stoppage of Joseph Benavidez did not earn him the flyweight crown, but he was awarded a shot at redemption when he took on Benavidez in July and he took it in emphatic fashion. Figueiredo ruthlessly dispatched his veteran opponent in the first round courtesy of a rear-naked choke, ensuring that he would leave Fight Island as the king of the flyweights.
His first defence was even more convincing than his title win, as he dominated Alex Perez and stopped him inside two minutes back on November 21, and it was the flawless nature of that victory that means the ‘God of War’ is in fighting shape for this incredibly quick turnaround. But is he making a mistake by signing on for such a swift return to action?
Brandon Moreno is certainly hoping so. The 27-year-old Mexican is unbeaten since arriving in the UFC just over a year ago, going 3-0-1 in his first four trips to the Octagon. A split decision draw in his debut fight with fellow UFC newcomer Askar Askarov was not the impression that he was looking to make in his first outing, but Moreno bounced back from that with a couple of decision wins over Kai Kara-France and Jussier Formiga, and he followed up those successes with his first stoppage win in the UFC back on November 21, taking out Brandon Royval in the final seconds of the first round.
So as you can see, Moreno is a man in form and he too has signed on for a quick turnaround. However, unlike Figueiredo the challenger has nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking on this short-notice title fight at UFC 256. The question is, will he gain a shiny UFC title belt or leave with his first defeat since putting pen-to-paper on his deal with the UFC?
I am opting for the latter. Moreno is a well-rounded fighter who should not simply be written off, but I cannot help but feel that his rapid rise up the flyweight ladder has been sped up by a lack of depth in this weight class at this time. I do not mean that as a sign of disrespect towards ‘The Assassin Baby’, but in most other weight classes he would not have earned his shot with a draw, a couple of decision wins and one stoppage success. That being said, Figueiredo cannot afford to take Moreno lightly. He will not.
The champion has the edge over the challenger in just about every aspect of the fight game and we have seen throughout his career that he can get the job done in any way he pleases. The first time around he stopped Benavidez with strikes, the second time it was via submission. In fact, three of his last four wins inside the Octagon have come via submission but that is not to say that this is his bread and butter. Figueiredo is a skilled stand-up fighter that throws with tremendous knockout power, as evidence by his nine career KO/TKO wins. 17 of his 20 professional wins have come inside the distance, so I simply have to back Figueiredo for another stoppage success here as he cements his status as the number one flyweight on the planet, and keeps himself at the front of the queue for a potential showdown with Henry Cejudo if the former champion ends his retirement in 2021.