Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight contenders Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez will rematch TONIGHT (July 18, 2020) from “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Strange circumstances led to this immediate rematch. In the first fight, Figueiredo made the critical error of missing weight. In the cage, however, Figueiredo performed rather perfectly, digging some big shots, threatening an armbar, and shutting off the lights in the second round. Still, all hope is not lost for “Beefcake.” His opponent was noticeably bigger, a previous advantage that may no longer exist since Figueiredo is reportedly coming into fight week much lighter. Plus, Benavidez was landing some quality shots of his own in the first round and before the clash of heads — it was no blowout.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Joseph Benavidez (UFC Fight Night 169), Alexandre Pantoja (UFC 240), John Moraga (UFC Fight Night 135), Tim Elliott (UFC Fight Night 161), Joseph Morales (UFC Fight Night 125)
Key Losses: Jussier Formiga (UFC Fight Night 148)
Keys to Victory: Figueiredo hits really hard, and he’s very aware of it. The hulking Brazilian stalks his opponent with his arms and legs wide, ready to lunge forward with a massive shot or attempt to pick his opponent off coming forward.
“Daico” has stopped nine foes via knockout.
Figueiredo would be wise to double down on what worked in the first bout. Clash of heads aside, Figueiredo had some early difficult finding Benavidez’s chin, but the mid-section was there. When Figueiredo stepped deep into the cross and aimed at the torso, Benavidez simply couldn’t get out of the way.
His eventual finish — a big stepping right to the jaw — was directly preceded by such a body punch.
Otherwise, it seemed like Figueiredo could’ve landed more kicks in the first match. If he’s to make the most of his range advantage, he cannot do so with his hands alone. Plus, showing some front kicks/knees up the middle might discourage Benavidez from jumping forward with punches and/or takedowns.
Key Wins: Henry Cejudo (TUF 24 Finale) , Jussier Formiga (UFC on ESPN 3, Fight Night 28), Dustin Ortiz (UFC Fight Night 143, UFC Fight Night 57), Alex Perez (TUF 28 Finale), Ali Bagautinov (UFC 192)
Key Losses: Deiveson Figueiredo (UFC Fight Night 169), Demetrious Johnson (UFC on FOX 9, UFC 152), Dominick Cruz (WEC 50, WEC 42), Sergio Pettis (UFC 225)
Keys to Victory: At 35 years of age, Benavidez remains an athletic ball of aggression. His kickboxing is made up almost entirely of varied combinations that mix stance-shifts with multi-target attacks. On the mat, Benavidez is a talented wrestler with a crushing squeeze.
In the first fight, Benavidez landed some pretty solid shots while on the offensive. His struggles came when backed into the fence, as there was simply nowhere to go when Figueiredo and his long arms forced the issue. First and foremost, Benavidez has to focus on keeping his back off the fence, particularly since he’ll sometimes back himself into the cage by charging past his foe.
Beyond that, I would definitely like to see more wrestling from Benavidez. Trading punches with Figueiredo is always going to be a risky strategy, simply because the Brazilian can crack so hard. On the ground, however, Benavidez’s scrambling is next-level, and he can work to exhaust his foe in a much safer fashion.
The Flyweight division should finally have a champion once more.
If Figueiredo can make weight and win the belt cleanly, the guy would be a fantastic champion. He’s the perfect antidote to any Flyweight naysayers, a knockout artist who routinely steps into the pocket with bad intentions. No one has ever walked away from a “Deus Da Guerra” fight bored, and an entertaining champion would really benefit the division.
None of that is to say Benavidez is a stranger to action-packed fights, but this is more of a personal journey for “Beefcake.” He’s been gunning for a title at the highest level for a decade now, which is a mind-boggling display of consistency and dedication. However, this definitively appears to be the final chance: Benavidez either leaves with a title, or it just isn’t going to happen.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 2 fight card on fight night, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.
For much more on this week’s UFC Fight Island 2 event click here.
At UFC Fight Island 2, a Flyweight championship rematch will headline the night. Which scrapper leaves with the title?