After months of uncertainty, the UFC flyweight division will finally have a new champion Saturday night.
Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez will settle their rivalry Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. The winner will own the belt that has been vacated since former titleholder Henry Cejudo relinquished it in December.
ESPN has Figueiredo ranked No. 2 and Benavidez at No. 3 in the world among MMA flyweight fighters. But the beef between the two of them goes deeper than that now.
Benavidez and Figueiredo fought Feb. 29 in Norfolk, Virginia. The bout was supposed to decide the title, but Figueiredo missed weight by 2.5 pounds. Benavidez was the only one who could win the belt in the fight — but Figueiredo ended up stopping Benavidez by TKO in the second round. There was some controversy there, too. Figueiredo’s finish came right after a clash of heads that rocked Benavidez.
Benavidez is taking the rematch personally. He said he was told by Brazilian media that Figueiredo made some comments about how he was proud that he head-butted Benavidez.
“What I felt after the last fight and the way it went about, not necessarily in the most fair way, it just makes me actually want to hurt him.,” Benavidez told ESPN. “I want you to feel dizzy when you get up every day and not know if your concussions are going to go away. I want you to freaking cry and be embarrassed and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, that is a different feeling towards this fight.
In the co-main event, former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum and Jack Hermansson will face off in a key middleweight battle. Gastelum (15-5, 1 NC) is ESPN’s No. 7-ranked middleweight, while Hermansson (20-5) is No. 8.
Also on the card, Alexandre Pantoja and Askar Askarov meet to potentially decide a future contender for the flyweight title, Irish fan favorite Joseph Duffy returns for the first time in 16 months and Brett Johnson and Montel Jackson square off in a battle of bantamweight prospects.
Heavyweight: Serghei Spivac (10-2, 1-2 UFC, -165) vs. Carlos Felipe (8-0, 0-0 UFC, +145)
Men’s flyweight championship: Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1, 7-1 UFC, -220) vs. Joseph Benavidez (28-6, 15-4 UFC, +185)
Middleweight: Jack Hermansson (20-5, 7-3 UFC, -110) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (16-5 1 NC, 10-5 1 NC, -110)
Lightweight: Marc Diakiese (14-3, 5-3 UFC, -160) vs. Rafael Fiziev (7-1, 1-1 UFC, +140)
Women’s flyweight: Ariane Lipski (12-5, 1-2 UFC, -120) vs. Luana Carolina (6-1, 1-0 UFC, +100)
Men’s flyweight: Alexandre Pantoja (22-4, 6-2 UFC, -190) vs. Askar Askarov (11-0-1, 1-0-1+170)
Light heavyweight: Khadis Ibragimov (8-2, 0-2 UFC, +145) vs. Roman Dolidze (6-0, 0-0 UFC, -165)
Catchweight (150 pounds): Grant Dawson (15-1, 3-0 UFC, -220) vs. Nad Narimani (12-3, 2-1 UFC, +185)
Lightweight: Joe Duffy (16-4, 4-3 UFC, -360) vs. Joel Alvarez (16-2, 1-1 UFC, +290)
Men’s bantamweight: Brett Johns (16-2, 4-2 UFC, +175) vs. Montel Jackson (9-1, 3-1 UFC, -200)
Men’s flyweight: Malcolm Gordon (12-3, 0-0 UFC, +145) vs. Amir Albazi (12-1, 0-0 UFC, -165)
Lightweight: Davi Ramos (10-3, 4-2 UFC, +180) vs. Arman Tsarukyan (14-2, 1-1 UFC, -210)
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