Brandon Moreno will challenge Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight title in the main event of UFC 256 in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Moreno will be the first Mexican-born fighter to compete for a UFC title. A win wouldn’t just change the fortunes of the athlete, his wife and his children. It also could be a boon for combat sports fans in a boxing-rich country.
“It means everything to me,” Moreno told ESPN of the opportunity. “We have a lot of the future of combat sports in Tijuana and Mexico in general. … But mixed martial arts is a relatively new sport in my country. I know I can change the game in my country if they have the first 100% Mexican champion in the UFC.”
ESPN has Figueiredo ranked No. 7 in the world on its MMA pound-for-pound list. Figueiredo and Moreno are ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, at flyweight behind former UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson, one of the best fighters of all time.
This is the quickest turnaround for a champion or challenger in UFC history. Figueiredo and Moreno both competed at UFC 255 on Nov. 21. Figueiredo finished Alex Perez via guillotine choke — the fastest submission in UFC flyweight history (1:57) — and Moreno beat Brandon Royval via first-round TKO.
Figueiredo (20-1) has won five in a row and nine of his 10 UFC appearances. The man nicknamed “God of War” stopped Joseph Benavidez via first-round TKO in July to win the vacant flyweight title. This will be the Brazilian slugger’s second title defense. Figueiredo, 32, is tied with Johnson for most finishes in UFC flyweight history, with seven.
Moreno (18-5-1) is unbeaten in five straight, with a 7-2-1 UFC record. “The Assassin Baby” was cut by the UFC in 2018 after he dropped two in a row. At the time, the promotion was considering dropping its flyweight division. Moreno, 26, won the LFA title in 2019 and was brought back to the UFC three months later. He is 3-0-1 since being released.
In the co-main event, perennial contender and former interim champion Tony Ferguson meets Charles Oliveira in a significant lightweight matchup. Ferguson (25-4), ranked No. 3 by ESPN at 155 pounds, had his record 12-fight lightweight winning streak snapped by Justin Gaethje in an interim title bout at UFC 249 in May. Oliveira (29-8, 1 NC), ESPN’s No. 9-ranked lightweight, has won seven straight and has the most submission wins in UFC history (14).
Also on the card, women’s strawweight grappling sensations Mackenzie Dern and Virna Jandiroba will do battle, former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos meets prospect Ciryl Gane, and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza faces Kevin Holland in a pivotal middleweight clash.
Fight in progress:
Men’s featherweight: Chase Hooper (9-1-1, 1-1 UFC, -340) vs. Peter Barrett (11-4, 0-1 UFC, +270)
Still to come:
Men’s flyweight: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) (20-1, 9-1 UFC, -330) vs. Brandon Moreno (18-5-1, 6-2-1 UFC, +260)
Lightweight: Tony Ferguson (26-4, 15-2 UFC, -165) vs. Charles Oliveira (29-8 1 NC, 17-8 1 NC UFC, +140)
Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern (9-1, 4-1 UFC, -190) vs. Virna Jandiroba (16-1, 2-1 UFC, +160)
Middleweight: Jacare Souza (26-8, 9-5 UFC, -115) vs. Kevin Holland (20-5, 7-2 UFC, -105)
Heavyweight: Junior Dos Santos (21-8, 15-7 UFC, +340) vs. Ciryl Gane (6-0, 3-0 UFC, -440)
Men’s featherweight: Cub Swanson (26-11, 11-7 UFC, +140) vs. Daniel Pineda (27-13, 4-4 UFC, -165)
Lightweight: Renato Moicano (14-3-1, 6-3 UFC, +130) vs. Rafael Fiziev (8-1, 2-1 UFC, -150)
Men’s featherweight: Gavin Tucker (12-1, 3-1 UFC, +145) vs. Billy Quarantillo (15-2, 3-0 UFC, -170)
Strawweight: Tecia Torres (11-5. 7-5 UFC, -650) vs. Sam Hughes (5-1, 0-0 UFC, +475)
(c) = defending champion
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