The landscape for both the UFC’s flyweight divisions remains unmoved from its original lie after Saturday night’s UFC 255 event.
Deiveson ‘Deus Da Garra’ Figueiredo continues to shine his star bright at 125-pounds, with the first successful defence of his flyweight throne, while the chasing pack in the women’s bracket continue to hunt down incumbent best, Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko who herself retained, albeit, not as comfortably.
Now unbeaten in his last five on the trot, Para finisher, Figueiredo made relatively short-work of challenger, Alex Perez, submitting the Team Oyama mainstay just less than two minutes into the opening round.
Defending a high-crotch single leg from the Lemoore favourite, Figueiredo then attempted to set up a heel hook, and after a brief scramble, wound up with Perez on his back momentarily. Scurring back to guard as Figueiredo began activity, Perez, unfortunately, left his head to the right of Figueiredo, with the Brazilian slapping on a now patented guillotine.
Moving to his knees, it seemed Perez’s head was close to an escape, with Figueiredo instead latching onto his neck tighter, ultimately forcing the tap.
In the night’s co-headliner, for the early goings, Kyrgyzstan native, Shevchenko most certainly didn’t have it all her own way or even the rub of the green. On her way to a successful unanimous decision retention, Shevchenko looked almost human for the first time since her flyweight exploits began.
Firing off a whipping, wicked counter left hand whenever Maia closed range to engage, Shevchenko relied heavily on her offensive wrestling to put Maia on her back, a somewhat surprising tactic given the Chute Boxe trainee’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu credentials.
Finding herself on bottom on some occasions, Shevchenko certainly never seemed likely to lose her crown on Saturday night, but the fact that Maia had some real success in the plentiful grappling exchanges – gives us a lot to ponder ahead of her next possible outing.
Below, join me as a play matchmaker for the flyweight championship duo and their respective challengers following last weekend’s fallout.
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno:
This one is as straight forward as you’re likely to find. Both Figueiredo and Moreno have already stunningly agreed to tackle each other in just twenty-one days, in a flyweight title fight at UFC 256 on December 12th.
Figueiredo, of course, dispatched Perez in Saturday’s headliner, while streaking contender, Moreno retained his status as the division’s number-one contender in the event’s featured preliminary outing, finishing Brandon Royval with a flurry of ground-and-pound following a shoulder injury.
With the pairing all but official for the promotion’s final flagship event of the year, expect some very interesting scrambles and high-octane action when these two all-rounders clash before the culmination of the year.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade:
While Maia caused Shevchenko some concern on Saturday, one contender touted to bring an interesting stylistic matchup to the flyweight titleholder, is former undisputed strawweight champion, Jessica ‘Bate Estaca’ Andrade.
Recently landing in the division with a statement knockout win over Saturday night feature, one-time title challenger, Katlyn ‘Blonde Fighter’ Chookagian, Andrade immediately stamped her status as the number-one contender at 125-pounds.
An aggressive striker with massive power, and an even more treacherous ground-game then compatriot, Maia – Andrade has already tasted gold in the promotion, and with her opening-round body shot barrage against Chookagian, the Parana native is primed to tackle Shevchenko for the crown.
Askar Askarov vs. Alex Perez:
When the promotion’s initial plans to feature champion, Figueiredo against former bantamweight best, Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt were scuppered – initial chatter in regards to a new opponent fell toward the likes of former ACB flyweight champion, Askar Askarov, eventual challenger, Perez, and upcoming hopeful, Moreno.
Undefeated in thirteen professional outings, and sitting at the number-three rank in the official 125-pound pile, 28-year-old force, Askarov has already knocked back one-time title challenger, Tim Elliot, and Alexandre Pantoja on his way to the division’s top-five, following a close split draw against the above mentioned, Moreno in his promotional bow.
Askarov seems to be a single win away from punching his ticket toward a title tilt, and an outing opposite the most recent title challenger, Perez, offers either of the two an opportunity to insert themselves into that championship territory.
Jennifer Maia vs. Cynthia Calvillo:
Former Invicta FC flyweight champion Maia was denied her second professional major title against Shevchenko, certainly not something to be baulked at, and the consensus would tell how she still offers a severe challenge to the division’s top-five on her day.
Whilst I’ve pitted Shevchenko vs. Andrade together, I’d hazard a guess that the promotion may have chosen to pair Shevchenko with Cynthia Calvillo if the recent American Kickboxing Academy mover picked up a victory over Chookagian on Saturday’s main card, although, Calvillo’s overall struggle with the Quakertown native’s height and length have put the kibosh on any such arrangements.
With the pair now forced to regroup after a pair of judging losses, a matchup between Maia and Calvillo makes sense, especially if the organization attempt to make a rematch between Chookagian and former Invicta FC bantamweight champion, ‘Lucky’ Lauren Murphy.