UFC Norfolk Preview
By Claudia Peterson
UFC on ESPN+ 27 (UFC Fight Night 169) takes place tonight at the Chartway Arena in Norfolk Virginia.
The main event features what would have been a proper flyweight title fight between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo. Figueiredo missed weight by 2.5lbs above the flyweight championship weight in limit of 125lbs.
The bout will proceed at a catchweight and Figueiredo will forfeit 30% of his purse to Benavidez, and is ineligible to win the title should he beat Joseph.
The weight miss is very unfortunate especially because the flyweight division has been vulnerable to being shut down by the UFC.
When current champion Henry Cejudo announced his plans to move forward by defending only his bantamweight title and the UFC proceeded to find contenders, it showed that perhaps the promotion was still committed to this division. Many fear that if Figueiredo wins the bout and no champion is crowned, the UFC could very easily call it a day for the flyweight division.
For his part, Joseph Benavidez has been waiting patiently for an opportunity to fight for the title once again and is on a three fight winning streak, and two of those wins earned him FOTN bonuses. He is coming off an impressive TKO win over Jussier Formiga back in June of 2019. His opponents’ weight miss certainly adds pressure not only to win, but to save the division, as he will be the only one who can do so on Saturday night. This unfortunate weight miss makes this main event less exciting to look forward to.
Featherweights Grant Dawson and Darrick Minner will open the main card, but not without controversy over another weight miss. Dawson weighted in 3.5lbs over the allowed featherweight limit of 146lbs. He will forfeit 30% of his fight purse, which will go to Minner, and their fight will proceed at a catchweight of 149.5lbs.
The main card also features two women’s featherweight bouts. Megan Anderson takes on Norma Dumont Viana while Felicia Spencer is the co-headliner of the night against Zarah Fairn Dos Santos.
With these four women fighting on Saturday night, you can say that the entire division is featured in the main card except the champion Amanda Nunes.
Megan Anderson has had four fights since being signed to the UFC, but has not really been able to get going. Her debut fight was against Holly Holm, who she lost to via unanimous decision. She then had a strange win over Cat Zingano in a fight that did not even get started due to a doctor stoppage. Her third fight was a first round submission loss against the co-headliner Felicia Spencer, and her fourth fight was a submission win over Zarah Fairn Dos Santos, a fighter that she was supposed to beat, and not much of a real challenge.
Viana is a relatively inexperienced undefeated fighter with four wins and who last fought in 2018. This fight will be a real challenge against the much more experienced and larger fighter in Anderson.
Felicia Spencer started out strong in the UFC by getting an impressive first round submission win over Megan Anderson, but then suffered her first loss in the sport against former champion Cris Cyborg.
Even though she lost that fight, she gained the respect of many by being able to withstand the power of Cyborg. She did not get knocked down once in the fight even though she took many hits.
For her part Dos Santos made her debut in late 2019 against Megan Anderson, where she was submitted in the first round. If Anderson, who does not have much grappling experience, was able to submit Dos Santos, then that makes this a very bad matchup for her, as Spencer will be looking to close the distance and get the takedown as soon as possible. Dos Santos may have a chance because she is a powerful striker and has the reach advantage over Spencer, but let’s not forget that Spencer was able to submit Anderson who is 6 feet tall.
Also, Ion Cutelaba meets Magomed Ankalaev at light heavyweight. This will be the one fight on the main card with relatively no drama. Cutelaba and Ankalaev seem to be very well matched, and this fight promises to be an exciting one.
Cutelaba is coming off an impressive KO win over Khalil Roundtree Jr, and Ankalaev is coming off a phenomenal front kick KO of Dalcha Lungiambula, a win that earned him a POTN bonus. Both men are well versed in striking and grappling.
A couple of notable fights on the preliminary cards features Violent Bob Ross Luis Pena who takes on Steve Garcia at lightweight, and Marcyn Tybura who takes on Sergey Spivak at heavyweight.