The UFC flyweight title is on the line this coming weekend as Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez run back their February bout.
In that bout, Figueiredo defeated Benavidez by second-round knockout but he was ineligible to win the UFC flyweight title which Henry Cejudo vacated in December 2019. The rematch was in Jeopardy after Figueiredo tested positive for the COVID-19 virus last July 11th. However, his manager said that the test could be a “false positive” since his fighter tested positive for the virus two months ago. The UFC decided to go on with the bout on the condition that Figueiredo passes the COVID-19 test upon arrival at Yas Island where the bout will be held.
The rematch between Figueiredo and Benavidez is the main event for UFC on ESPN + 30 on July 18, 2020, at the Flash Forum in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. It is the third of four events that are scheduled to take place in the UFC’s Fight Island series.
Let’s take a look at both fighters and preview the bout:
Deiveson Figueiredo knocked out Joseph Benavidez at the 1:54 mark of the second round of their non-title fight at UFC on ESPN +27 last February 29, 2020. The UFC flyweight title was supposed to be on the line in that bout but Figueiredo was not eligible to win it after he failed to make weight. Despite that, he still delivered one of the best performances of his UFC career to hand Benavidez his fourth loss in a title fight.
Prior to the loss, Benavidez was on a three-fight winning streak with two knockouts wins. One of those KOs came against Jussier Formiga, the only fighter to beat Figueiredo Meanwhile, Figueiredo has won three straight bouts since losing to Formiga with two of those wins coming by stoppage.
There are two things worth noting in the first bout though. One is that Figueiredo weighed in 2.5 pounds over the weight limit and was ineligible to win the title. The other is that an accidental clash of heads led to the cut that started the downfall of Benavidez. In that bout, Benavidez closed as a -155 favorite and Figueiredo was a +125 underdog.
Benavidez has been the underdog only twice in his career before this bout. Those happened during his rematch with Mighty Mouse and his 2018 bout against Alex Perez. As for the Brazilian, the -200 odds represent his shortest in his eight-fight UFC career as his previous low of -185 came against his fight against Tim Elliott.
Deiveson Figueiredo is the #1 ranked flyweight in the UFC and a former 57kg Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Northeast Brazil champion. He spent his first years fighting in Brazil, accumulating a record fo 11-0 before he was signed by the UFC in 2017. This former bricklayer and hairdresser has lost just once in eight octagon appearances.
The 32-year old from Soura, Para in Brazil stands 5-5 tall with a reach of 68 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. He has a record of 18-1 with nine knockouts and six wins via submission. Figueiredo is 7-1 in the UFC with five stoppage victories. He is on a three-fight winning streak with his last two wins coming via stoppage inside two rounds.
Deus Da Guerra is averaging 2.54 significant strikes per minute with a striking accuracy of 52%. He gets hit by an average of 2.76 significant strikes per minute and has a striking defense of 52%. The Brazilian lands an average of 1.81 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 50% takedown accuracy and a 61% takedown defense.
Figueiredo is a balanced fighter who doesn’t really get the respect that he deserves. He has a good takedown game and he can also fight well on his back. He also has serious pop in his punches and he has picked up nine knockout wins in his career. The Brazilian also has great movement and knows how to counter his opponents.
Joseph Benavidez is the second-ranked flyweight in the promotion. He started from Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male and found his way to the WEC where he earned a title shot against Dominick Cruz. Benavidez lost that bout and he also lost two title bouts to Demetrious Johnson in the UFC.
The 35-year old from San Antonio, Texas is a southpaw who stands 5-4 tall with a reach of 65 inches. His record stands at 28-6 with 8 knockouts and 9 wins via submission. Benavidez is 9-2 in his last 11 UFC bouts with his two losses during that period coming at the hands of Sergio Pettis and Figueiredo.
Benavidez lands an average of 3.53 significant strikes per minute at a 34% accuracy. He absorbs 2.55 significant strikes per 15 minutes with a striking defense of 65%. Benavidez also completes 1.50 takedowns per 15 minutes with a takedown accuracy of 30% and a takedown defense of 65%.
Despite being close to 36 years of age, Benavidez is still as fast and as aggressive as he was during his younger years. His standup game is unpredictable, wild, yet creative. He isn’t the most accurate striker out there but his volume and awkward style enable him to land his big shots. He also has a wrestling background and has shown that he can win fights by submission.
Although Figueiredo missed weight, the extra pounds didn’t figure heavily in the result of the bout. But his hands did. Figueiredo’s power figured heavily in the first bout between these two. The Brazilian landed a solid right cross that dropped Benavidez and then finished him off with a flurry of ground and pound strikes.
Figueiredo used his physicality to bully Benavidez inside the cage. He pressured Benavidez and imposed his size inside the octagon. Benavidez did look quicker and faster but he could not get any offense going because of the pressure applied by the Brazilian. On the feet, Figueiredo stood in front of Benavidez and willingly traded punches. The Brazilian ended up inflicting more damage. He also nearly submitted Benavidez early in the fight.
Benavidez has had tough luck in the flyweight division. He played second fiddle when Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson during the latter’s reign. When Henry Cejudo ruled the weight class, Benavidez was still #2. Now, it appears that he will still be the bridesmaid to Figueiredo.
I think that this fight will be similar to their first encounter as I do not see either fighting changing much with their styles since they last fought. There is no doubt that Benavidez is a live dog here and given his experience, he can manufacture ways to win this fight. However, I think that Figueiredo is the much stronger fighter between the two, and the difference in punching power will ultimately be the key to this fight.
Figueredo bullies Benavidez again. Benavidez will have his moments but in the championship rounds, the Brazilian will land a meaningful shot that will mark the beginning of the end for Benavidez. I think that this fight will end the same way the first one did. Except that the Brazilian is going to make weight this time around. There are concerns about the effects of the COVID-19 virus on the Brazilian but between that and what happened in the first bout, I will go with the latter. Give me Figueiredo here by stoppage.
Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo (-200)
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