Leo Correa/Associated Press
Deiveson Figueiredo kept his UFC flyweight championship, but it wasn’t a true title defense as he and Brandon Moreno fought to a majority draw in the main event at UFC 256 at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
The two flyweights engaged in an all-out brawl that’s not only going to be a Fight of the Year contender, but also the beginning of a beautiful rivalry in the flyweight division.
Moreno made it clear from the outset this would not be an easy title defense for the champion. He was more than willing to throw heavy leather at Figueiredo even if meant eating some in return. The two got after it in the opening round with the champ taking a slight lead but the stage was set for a slugfest.
Figueiredo started to adjust in the second round opening up his striking. He landed several strong hooks both to Moreno’s chin and body. While Moreno had top position on the ground for a few moments it was a strong round for the champion.
The fight was a perfect example of what flyweights can bring to the table. Both guys set a frenetic pace, landing hard punches and fighting in a phone booth.
Unfortunately, a fun fight took a bad turn when Figueiredo landed a low blow that, while inadvertent, was severe enough that the champion was deducted a point by referee Jason Herzog. The five-minute break did seem to put some pep in the step of Moreno.
He landed a firm right hand to possibly win the round and bring the fight to more even footing going into the championship rounds.
It was in the fourth the fight ascended to complete pandemonium. The two fighters alternated landing shots that would put down lesser combatants.
The draw caps off a busy year for Figueiredo, who could also be the Fighter of the Year. Not only did he capture the belt with two wins over Joseph Benavidez (he missed weight the first time), but he also registered a title defense just three weeks ago.
Headlining UFC 255 with a first-round submission over Alex Perez, Figueiredo wasted no time in picking out another opponent and taking care of him.
Now, the fight to make in the flyweight division is a rematch between Moreno and Figueiredo, although there are plenty of other options if they want to build the match for a while.
Former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt was Figueiredo’s original opponent for UFC 255. He has never made the cut down to flyweight but was ready to make the move before a torn bicep took him out of the fight.
If Figueiredo had his choice he has another former champion in mind, though. Henry Cejudo is officially retired but remains on the periphery of the division.
“Cejudo’s a masked clown,” Figueiredo told media at a virtual press conference (h/t MMAjunkie). “I can’t wait for him to step in front of me so I can knock that mask off his face.”
Cejudo put together a six-fight winning streak that featured title wins for both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions before retiring. However, retirements in the fight game are often more promotional tool than actual future plan.
Cejudo may want to come back, but he’s going to have to wait a while now. Moreno may have just put the division on hold with his epic performance.