Recap: UFC Fight Night – Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2

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The third UFC Fight Island event is now in the books and there was no doubt left to have as we have a NEW Flyweight champion.

 

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 Recap
Photo Credit: MMA Fighting

With a first-round submission victory via rear-naked choke, Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1 9KOs 6 SUBs) put away Joseph Benavidez (28-6) and is now the 125 lbs king of the mountain. If not for missing weight in their first go-around, Figueiredo would’ve already been crowned the champion back in February. Nonetheless, a few months later, he is finally going home with the gold after a dominating performance from start to finish.

Most likely, the most powerful striker in the division, Figueiredo, knew that once he could touch Benavidez, he’d hurt him. Taking his time, not rushing into a blitzing attack, the Brazilian would look for openings and counters—timing when his opponent would shoot in and throw hooks in return. A right hook to the top of the head dropped Benavidez flat on his rear, but a delay in response from Figueiredo gave the veteran enough time to recover. While on the mat, the two Jiu-Jitsu aces would look to tangle with Figueiredo in control the whole time.

 

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 Recap
Photo Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Dropping elbows, Benavidez would give up his back, which allowed for several attempts at a rear-naked choke. In one of the efforts, the arm was under the chin and looked to be the end, but Benavidez fought off the hands and broke the grip to survive a bit longer. Moments later, however, Figueiredo would get the position he needed and sink in a deep rear-naked choke that put his opponent to sleep for the victory. The new champion would land 35-40 significant strikes (87%), the highest percentage in a title fight within the division. He landed more strikes (35) than Benavidez attempted (33).

This is now Figueiredo’s fourth straight win and makes him 8-1 in the UFC. At 32 years old, with tremendous power, solid grappling skills, and confidence in his ability to battle anyone who stands across from him, could we see the start of another excellent title run? This was the first time in his career that Benavidez lost by submission. He hasn’t been stopped in a fight since 2013, and now, with a fourth failed attempt at gaining UFC gold, could this be the end for one of the divisions best?

 

In the night’s co-main event, we saw a fantastic showing from Jack Hermansson (21-5 11KOs 6 SUBs) as he got a first-round submission of his own when he put away Kelvin Gastelum (15-6) with a heel hook.

 

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 Recap
Photo Credit: GoogleNews

Some strikes were exchanged, but nothing significant, Hermansson would attempt a takedown, but an immediate reversal saw Gastelum on top in half guard. Wanting to stand and trade, Gastelum looked to get up, but Hermansson grabbed hold of his leg and wouldn’t let go. After some tussling back and forth, that leg was locked in. Perfect positioning gave Hermansson all he needed to squeeze enough and force the tap. Now 8-3 in the promotion with wins over Jacare Souza, David Branch, Thales Leites and now Gastelum, Hermansson has shown he’s one of the divisions top contenders and is nearing a title shot.

In his post-fight interview, Hermansson gave an outline of how he sees things playing in the future. He faces the winner of next week’s Middleweight main event between Robert Whittaker and Darren Till, as it was announced earlier in the card, the Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will defend his title against Paulo Costa in September at UFC 253. The winner of that bout should face Jared Cannonier, who sits at number 3 in the division but beat Hermansson in his last outing. The winner of those fights should fight for the title.

 

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 Recap
Photo Credit: The National Reporter

Whew! Ok, so in total, there will be at least four bouts to take place before Hermansson should get his title shot. Yeah, MMA matches can be confusing sometimes.

For the first time in his career, Gastelum has lost now three bouts in a row and is 2-4-1 in his last seven outings. Sometimes things just don’t fall your way. He went to war over five rounds with the champion and got caught early with a heel hook here. It’s not anywhere close the end for the California based fighter, but he is going to have to make some adjustments and find his groove again to get back in the winner’s circle.

 

 

Also on the card, we were treated to a Fight of the Night performance between Rafael Fiziev (8-1 5 KOs) who defeated Marc Diakiese (14-4 6 KOs) via decision.

 

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 Recap
Photo Credit: MMA Fighting

These two put on a hell of a showing as both looked to keep the fight standing and trade shots for the majority of the match. Body kicks from Fiziev that could be heard from Abu Dhabi all the way to his homeland of Kazakhstan set the tone and left an impression. While Diakiese would bounce back and find some good hooks to the body, the fight was clearly in the hands of Fiziev, who pushed forward, showed his power, and even his signature matrix-style defense as he leaned back when Diakiese threw a head kick attempt. A trait he’s done for years now.

The young fighter has a lot of promise and looks to be one to keep an eye out for going forward. He has a way to climb in the always-stacked Lightweight division, but with showings like this, he’ll make his mark sooner rather than later.

 

UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs Benavidez 2 Recap
Photo Credit: Insider

Another great showing and a Performance of the Night outing was Ariane Lipski (13-5 6KOs 3 SUBs) nailing a kneebar submission in the first round over Luana Carolina. The Violent Queen was aggressive from the start, and after a takedown and crossing of the legs, she was able to turn around, sit on her opponent’s chest and pull back on the leg.

You could see the pain Carolina was in as she tapped. The knee just isn’t meant to go backward. Usually, one who looks for knockouts, Lipski was more than ok with locking in a submission victory. The Brazilian is now 2-2 in the UFC, winning her last two outings and looking to continue her climb up the woman Flyweight ranks.

After the third showing from Fight Island, we now have a new Flyweight champion and the potential end of a legendary career. Add a new contender, the continued fall of a promising star, and a hot young prospect. Put a bow on the night with one violent queen. UFC from Abu Dhabi has been a success every time out, providing us with great fights, endless possibilities moving forward, and the hits keep coming!

 

Next week UFC on ESPN returns as Robert Whittaker takes on Darren Till in a Middleweight main event among other great matchups on the card. Let the fists fly and the good times roll.

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– Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

 

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