Already a breakout star in 2020, UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo is seeking to make a relatively extraordinary assertion on Saturday.
Figueiredo will defend his title towards prime contender Brandon Moreno in the principle occasion of UFC 256 in Las Vegas. That struggle will go down because the quickest turnaround in historical past by a UFC champion. Figueiredo defeated Alex Perez within the UFC 255 major occasion on Nov. 21.
Throw in his two dominant performances towards Joseph Benavidez, together with profitable the flyweight belt in July, and it has been a dream 12 months for Figueiredo.
However is the Brazilian being a bit of too formidable in defending his crown simply three weeks after his final battle?
Previous to the Figueiredo-Moreno conflict, Tony Ferguson will step into the Octagon towards Charles Oliveira. It is Ferguson’s first struggle since dropping to Justin Gaethje in Could, which snapped his 12-fight win streak.
A win over Oliveira could be a powerful one, contemplating he is on a seven-fight win streak. Would that be sufficient to get Ferguson again into title competition in a loaded light-weight division?
ESPN MMA specialists Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim focus on these subjects and extra, breaking down what’s actual and what’s not.
Actual or not: Figueiredo is making a mistake by turning round so rapidly.
Helwani: No method. This can be a good transfer on his half. Initially, he did not get damage in his win over Alex Perez. That is most vital. Second, he’ll make historical past when he fights on Saturday as a result of that would be the quickest turnaround for a champion ever. That is an enormous feather in his cap. Third, followers and the corporate merely love a fighter who turns round rapidly — simply ask Khamzat Chimaev. A transfer like this solely endears him within the eyes of, nicely, everybody, and helps expedite his development as a star. Fourth, it will assist preserve his weight down. There is no doubt he is an enormous man, however the fast turnaround will preclude him from getting too large as a result of he agreed to this struggle earlier than he left the Apex on Nov. 21. There wasn’t any time to get off form.
He is sharp and in form and has an opportunity to seal his destiny because the 2020 male fighter of the 12 months by headlining his second straight pay-per-view. A no brainer if there ever was one.
After all, he has to win, and I believe Brandon Moreno is a harder struggle than Perez, nevertheless it’s a danger price taking, particularly when you think about the posh of simply with the ability to keep in Las Vegas. Hindsight would possibly show in any other case if he in the end loses, however I just like the transfer quite a bit for a budding star.
Actual or not: Ferguson will struggle for the light-weight title in 2021.
Look again via Tony Ferguson’s greatest moments contained in the Octagon. For extra UFC motion, join ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Raimondi: Tentatively, as an example actual for this one. After all, a number of issues must fall in place. Ferguson has to first beat Oliveira, and that is no straightforward job. Oliveira has gained seven straight — each single considered one of them by end. He has appeared pretty much as good as ever, nearly like Ferguson throughout his unbelievable 12-fight profitable streak.
There appears to be a sentiment amongst some individuals in MMA that Ferguson is on a steep decline. He definitely did not look fully like himself in a fifth-round TKO loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 again in Could. However you would owe that to no less than two issues. For one, he was preventing Gaethje, who’s good and would in all probability beat each different light-weight on the earth not named Khabib Nurmagomedov. Secondly, Ferguson lower weight inexplicably twice earlier than that struggle, as soon as the day earlier than the struggle as standard and as soon as about three weeks out. Ferguson is an enormous boy for 155 kilos. It is easy to think about two of these steep weight cuts sapping his vaunted vitality towards Gaethje.
These two issues is not going to be a priority towards Oliveira. If Ferguson will get a win, particularly a end, he can be proper again within the title combine — strongly so. He controls his personal future in that method. Nevertheless, there are a number of different chips that must fall in place. Does Nurmagomedov truly retire and quit his light-weight title? Does the winner of the UFC 257 major occasion between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier get the subsequent title shot? The place does Gaethje match? These three names — McGregor, Poirier and Gaethje — are forward of Ferguson within the pecking order proper now. There’s an opportunity Ferguson must beat Oliveira after which one other prime contender to get again to a title shot.
But when Nurmagomedov really steps away and timing is on Ferguson’s aspect, it is definitely affordable that Ferguson might struggle for the title in 2021. After which there’s this: Ferguson has proven time and again the previous few years that he’s not somebody you wish to guess towards.
Actual or not: Casey Kenney is the proper opponent for Dominick Cruz to return towards.
Wagenheim: This reserving is unreal. It leaves me bewildered. I imply, what precisely is the UFC envisioning for Cruz, a two-time former champion coming off a title struggle loss, by sticking him in the cage with an unranked up-and-comer?
A matchup like this could have been affordable again in September 2014, when Cruz was coming back from a three-year absence to heal from surgical procedures to his knee (twice) and groin. He had been out for therefore lengthy that he needed to vacate his bantamweight belt. For his comeback, it appeared clever to many on the time for Cruz to take a tuneup struggle, however after all the UFC doesn’t e book such issues. As an alternative, Cruz confronted extremely ranked Takeya Mizugaki and confirmed he in truth was absolutely in tune, knocking out the Japanese fighter in exactly a minute.
Reserving an opponent much like Kenney additionally would have appeared like a good suggestion in January 2016, when Cruz returned from one other knee surgical procedure and a 16-month absence. However Cruz was thrown proper in with the champion, and would not you recognize it, Cruz ended up dethroning TJ Dillashaw to regain his outdated belt.
Going through somebody of Kenney’s standing would have made sense at the same time as lately as Could, when Cruz was resuming his profession following nonetheless one other prolonged pause, this one wanted to heal arm and shoulder accidents and lasting practically three and a half years. As an alternative, Cruz challenged Henry Cejudo for the title and was knocked out within the second spherical.
So, after ending three prolonged durations of inactivity by leaping proper into two title bouts and a No. 1 contender struggle, Cruz now’s set to step again into the Octagon simply 10 months after his final struggle, and is booked towards an unranked, little-known opponent? What a puzzling run of matchmaking.
This isn’t to discredit Kenney. He has gained 9 of his previous 10 fights, together with two victories simply 21 days aside in October. He’s a 29-year-old on the rise and can be no pushover. This can be a nice alternative for him so as to add an enormous identify to his résumé and make a reputation for himself.
However why the surreal change of matchmaking philosophy? Within the UFC’s eyes, has Cruz devolved from The Dominator to The Gate Keepinator?
Actual or not: Yoel Romero will struggle for Bellator.
Helwani: A 12 months or so in the past this could have been a straightforward one to reply. A no brainer. A 12 months or so in the past, Romero would already be signed to Bellator.
Nevertheless, if you happen to’ve observed as of late, the promotion has been hesitant to signal fighters, big-name or not, who’re deemed UFC castoffs. It is usually clear that it’s making a concerted effort to signal youthful fighters nowadays.
None of this bodes nicely for the 43-year-old Romero, who was lately released by the UFC.
I am informed Bellator was provided a possibility to signal Romero final week and respectfully declined. Simply because it did with Anderson Silva lately and because it did with Paige VanZant over the summer time, too. Does that imply Romero to Bellator is lifeless? No. However there are no talks occurring proper now between the 2 sides, sources say.
This one is a shock, contemplating you would make a case that Romero truly beat middleweight champion Israel Adesanya again in March. And yeah, he has misplaced three of 4, nevertheless it would not really feel like he is really over the hill — I imply, his final struggle was for a UFC title — and you’ll’t inform me a Romero vs. Gegard Mousasi middleweight title struggle would not be probably the most attention-grabbing 185-pound title struggle Bellator might placed on proper now. However alas, it is sticking to its youth motion and do not appear .
If not Bellator, PFL would appear like a pure, proper? In spite of everything, it did simply signal fellow 43-year-old Fabricio Werdum, who hasn’t been as related as Romero as of late. All I do know for positive is I hope Romero would not signal with Naked Knuckle or a promotion like that. One of many best wrestlers in MMA historical past — to not point out among the best to by no means win a UFC title — wants to finish his profession in MMA, and I hope he will get to take action on his phrases.
Actual or not: Conor McGregor vs. Jake Paul is a struggle I wish to see.
Jake Paul tells Marc Raimondi that his future plans contain preventing UFC fighters within the boxing ring, and names Conor McGregor as his major goal.
Okamoto: No, this isn’t a struggle I wish to see. McGregor preventing Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2017 was one factor. It did not make sense and it was a farcical cash seize, however we might all perceive it and even get pleasure from it. I’ve no phrases for what this could be. A travesty? A monumental waste of McGregor’s expertise?
I am not hating on Jake Paul, right here. Do your factor, Jake. I am behind you all the way in which. Hold boxing and promoting pay-per-views, however not towards one of many prime skills in blended martial arts. McGregor appears to be hungry and able to truly compete once more, in a sport by which he has the flexibility to be an actual champion. That is what I wish to see … not him preventing a YouTube persona.