The UFC flyweight division was recently on the verge of finishing 11 months ago. Now, it may just produce the best MMA fight of 2020.
In the UFC 256 Main Event in Las Vegas, Davison Figueredo and Brandon Moreno clashed with an excellent draw (48–46, 47–47, 47–47) in the UFC Flyweight Title Fight on Saturday night. Vegas Former flyweight champion Figueiredo retained the title due to the draw. It was only the fourth draw in UFC Championship history.
“We need a rematch,” Fighter Moreno, the first Mexican native to compete for a UFC title, said in his postfight interview. “We need that rematch. I think so. For myself, for Figueiredo, for the fans, for everyone. For the game, absolutely.”
UFC President Dana White called Figueiredo-Moreno the best fight in UFC flyweight history and said he wanted to be a rematch “absolutely, positively”.
“Another fun fight for all of us going forward in 2021,” he said.
The battle was filled with wild, difficult exchanges. Both men tagged each other with hard combinations and head kicks. When it seemed that someone had gained momentum, the other would return with a loud bang.
“If they want to put him in front of me in the next fight, I’m ready for it,” Figueiredo said.
Figueiredo said in his postfight interview that he had a stomach infection on Friday night and was in the hospital until 2 a.m. Saturday.
In February, Figueiredo weighed in before the match with Josef Benavid for the vacant flyweight title. He ended up defeating Benavidez by a second-round TKO, leaving the belt vacant as they were disqualified to become champions with missing weight.
At that time, the future of the division was uncertain. The UFC spent the end of 2017 and 2018 splitting the whispers that it would be terminated. Fast forward to present and the flyweight division has now streamlined back-to-back UFC pay-per-view cards to end the year.
White credited UFC co-matchmaker Mick Maynard for rebuilding the flyweight division, which he called “one of the most exciting divisions in the UFC now.”
“And tonight, we put the potential fight of the year and potentially the biggest fight in the history of the division,” White said.
It was the fastest change for a champion or challenger in UFC history. Figueiredo and Moreno both competed on UFC 255 on November 21 – just three weeks earlier. At UFC 255, Figueiredo eliminated Alex Perez via a guillotine choke – the fastest submission in UFC flyweight history (1 minute, 57 seconds) – and Moreno defeated Brandon Royval via a first-round TKO.
When the UFC lost its scheduled UFC 256 main event – a bantamweight title fight between champions Petr Yan and Alzman Sterling – the promotion tabbed to fill Figueiredo and Moreno. And he did so with an epic encounter.
Figueiredo, known for his first-round barrages, allowed Moreno to move quickly, move forward and land hard shots. But Moreno, unlike many Figueiredo opponents, will not go far. In fact, Moreno had strong moments in the second, including a huge overhand right and a big combination at the end of the goal.
Things got a bit weird in the third. Figueiredo landed a straight left kick under the belt, sending Moreno to his knees. Referee Jason Herzog deducted a point from Figueiredo for an illegal, damaging blow.
“The referee did his job,” Figueiredo said.
Moreno bounced back with a big fourth round filled with long combinations – kicking the body and head and head. Although Figueiredo was able to finish strong in the fifth despite being tired. In the closing seconds, he used a judo throw to bounce Moreno over his head and then score through the ground-and-pound.
Judge Salle D’Mato and Junichiro Kamijo both drew. Due to the point deduction, D’Amato won the first and fifth rounds and won the third 9-9. Kamijo went on to win 9–9 in the third, first and second rounds with Figueiredo. Judge Derek Cleary won 9-9 in the third, with Figueiredo winning the first, second and fifth rounds.
ESPN ranked No. 7 in the world on its MMA pound-for-pound list. At flyweight by EUPN, UF Flyovero and Moreno are ranked respectively, trailing former UFC flyover winner Demetrius Johnson. Best fighter of all time.
The card took place inside UFC Apex, a location across the street from the Vegas corporate campus of Promotions. It was the final pay-per-view of 2020 for the UFC, the first major sports organization after the coronovirus-related hiatus.
Figueiredo (20-1-1) is unbeaten in six straight and 11 out of 10 in the UFC. Nicknamed the “God of War”, Figueiredo prevented Benavidj from winning the vacant weightweight title via a first-round TKO in July. This was his second title. Figueiredo, 32, is tied with Johnson for the most finishes in UFC flyweight history (seven).
“My fans are used to seeing a knockout in the first round, but I fought all five rounds and I felt that I did well”
Moreno (18-5-2) is unbeaten 6-2 straight, with a 7-2-2 UFC record overall. In 2018, “The Essence Baby” was cut by the UFC after dropping two in a row. At the time, the promotion was considering leaving the division. The 26-year-old Moreno won the Legacy Fighting Alliance title out of promotion in 2019 and was brought back to the UFC just three months later. He is 3–0–2 since released.
“Leading this week, [Moreno] Everyone was stating that his hero is Julio Cesar Chavez, “White said referring to the legendary Mexican boxer.” When people remember him and his career, he wants to be remembered like Julio Cesar Chavez. When you look at typical Mexican fighters, that is the prototype. … He looked great tonight.