UFC Fight Island 2 went down last night (Sat., July 18, 2020) from inside Flash Forum on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The headlining act saw Deiveson Figueiredo abuse and then submit Joseph Benavidez in the first round to win the vacant Flyweight title (see it again here). In the co-main event, Jack Hermansson stunned Kelvin Gastelum, forcing him to tap early in the opening round with a nasty heel hook (highlights).
Biggest Winner: Deiveson Figueiredo
Figueiredo can now put his scale fail from his first fight against Joseph Benavidez this past February behind him. While he did knockout “Joe Jitsu” at UFC Fight Night 169, he went home without the title as a result of coming in heavy. His win was also attributed to an inadvertent clash of heads by many. But after putting Benavidez to sleep in the closing moments of round one in the rematch, “Daico” can now officially call himself a UFC champion ... and there is zero controversy surrounding his win this time around. Figueiredo made it look effortless, tagging “Joe Jitsu” at will, knocking him down three times in the first round. And though Benavidez fought like hell to escape Deiveson’s rear-naked choke attempts, he was eventually put to sleep by that same hold moments later. Figueiredo moves to 19-1 in his combat career, 8-1 inside the Octagon. With a shiny new belt and an extra $50K in his pocket, the Brazilian bomber will now be tasked with ushering in the new era at 125 pounds, a division that has only known two champions prior, Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo, who was stripped of the belt last year.
Runner Up: Jack Hermansson
“The Joker” made a huge statement in his quick win over Gastelum, putting him back on the winner’s podium after getting knocked out by Jared Cannonier in his previous outing. He will now move up a spot or two in the rankings, and with Robert Whittaker and Darren Till set to throw down next Saturday (July 25, 2020), Hermansson could very well be facing the winner of that fight next. At 5-1 over his last six bouts, Hermansson has proven to be a legit threat to the the man holding the division strap, and I believe one more win should get him to the big dance. For now, he can enjoy the spoils of his victory. That being said, he may want to ease up on celebrating by eating whatever his heart desires, as it would behoove him to keep his weight on track and kick back in Abu Dhabi another week just in case his services are needed should something happen to either Whittaker or Till. Stranger things have happened.
Biggest Loser: Kelvin Gastelum
Both Gastelum and Joseph Benavidez suffered big losses, and either one of them could fit this spot. But we will discuss “Joe Jitsu’s” second straight first-round defeat at the hands of Figueiredo in another post. For now, we’re going to focus on Gastelum’s loss to Hermansson just 78 seconds into the bout. That’s because the defeat marked the third straight loss in the last 15 months for the former Middleweight title contender, leaving him in a bad spot at 185 pounds. Since climbing that ladder will be a bit more difficult given his recent woes, he can always drop down to Welterweight where he went 5-2. However, he did miss weight on two occasions, which prompted his move up to 185 pounds in the first place. Indeed, Gastelum is in a very tough spot and has plenty to think about moving forward. Where it’s gone wrong for the former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) champion is tough to pinpoint, but it’s not like he’s been losing to just anyone — all three of his defeats have come against combatants ranked within the top six, including current division champion, Israel Adesanya. A change in divisions (again) could be what's needed for Gastelum, though you can only keep drawing from that well a certain amount of times before you have to start looking at other options to turn your career around.
For complete UFC Fight Island 2: “Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE!