Figueiredo cut Benavidez with a right hand in the first few seconds, then attempted to squeeze a bare rear choke on the ground. Benavidez bravely fought him and stood up. But he couldn’t do it a second time. Figueiredo hit him with a whipping right hand in the last minute of the first, then jumped up and locked in the bid to claim the title victory. Benavidez did not hit – he became unconscious and referee Marc Goddard called the fight.
“I said I was going to break Benavidez, and that’s exactly what I did,” said Figueiredo. “I gave him his first submission on his album, and the fight itself was a great show. I put on a show for everyone. He didn’t surprise me at all tonight. ”
Upon arriving, ESPN ranked Figueiredo as its # 2 MMA flyweight in the world, and Benavidez # 3. Figueiredo is now just the third flyweight champion in UFC history, after the legendary Demetrious Johnson and l recently retired two-time champion Henry Cejudo.
Benavidez and Figueiredo first fought on February 29 in Norfolk, Virginia. The fight was supposed to decide the vacant title, but Figueiredo missed weight by 2.5 pounds. Due to the missed weight, 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 also a dispute there. Figueiredo’s arrival came just after a head clash that rocked Benavidez, who had won the first round. The circumstances led the UFC to grant Benavidez immediate revenge.
Sunday’s fight took place at the recently built Flash Forum on Yas Island, which has been dubbed “Fight Island” by the UFC for this month’s list of events in Abu Dhabi. It was the third UFC card on the site in eight days, with another on July 25.
Figueiredo has had a strange journey in the past two weeks. He was first tested positive for COVID-19 before leaving his native Brazil, and did not take the UFC charter from Sao Paulo. On July 11, he was tested again, the result came back negative and he took a flight last Sunday to Abu Dhabi.
Once on Yas Island, Figueiredo passed several more COVID-19 tests and was cleared by the UFC. He managed to put on some weight – unlike the first fight with Benavidez – on Friday, just hours after being released from quarantine.
“I was able to overcome all of that,” Figueiredo said. “I was able to come here, and I’m the champion now; it’s going to be a very difficult time for whoever comes after me. ”
Since Figueiredo’s UFC debut in 2017, he has the most wins (8) and most finishes (6) in the flyweight division, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Benavidez was able to survive the early assault of Figueiredo. Figueiredo first dropped him with a right hand behind the ear, then tried to smother him on the carpet. Benavidez kind of fought off the choke attempt and got up with 2:16 left in the lap.
Once standing, Benavidez mounted a certain offense. He landed a combination of four shots, then a body shot and a hard right shot. But Figueiredo again dropped him with a right. Benavidez got up, but a few seconds later, Figueiredo knocked him down for the last time, then choked him. It was the first submission loss in Benavidez’s 14-year career.
“I also wanted to put this first loss of submission on his record,” said Figueiredo. “I finished it in the first round. This is exactly what happened. ”
Figueiredo (19-1) is one of the best finishers in the history of a division not known for its finishes. The Brazilian has six saves in eight UFC wins and has won four straight games. Figueiredo, 32, has only one loss in his career, against his compatriot Jussier Formiga in 2019.
Benavidez (28-7) is one of the best MMA flyweight fighters of all time and a fan favorite, with a lot of motivation to finally win the belt he had missed three times before. The Las Vegas resident participated in the first fight for the UFC flyweight title, falling to Johnson – who became the longtime champion – in 2012.
Benavidez, 35, is tied for most wins in UFC flyweight history (13, with Johnson), has most fights in the division (18) and most knockouts (5).
Cejudo quit the UFC flyweight title last December when he made it clear he was focused on defending his second belt, the bantamweight title.
“I’m available to anyone the UFC wants to put in front of me. Anyone at my level, ”Figueiredo said. “But you have to be at my level, because I’m a knockout artist, I’m going to knock you out. I’m going home tomorrow, and we’re going to start celebrating with all the Brazilians on the flight home, and as soon as I land in Brazil, everyone will be taking pictures and congratulating me, so it’s going to be a great party. “