UFC Fight Island 2: Figueiredo vs Benavidez: The Breakdown
By Ross Markey
We’ll have no controversy surrounding tomorrow night’s main event rematch between, Deiveson Figueiredo, and Joseph Benavidez – pre-fight anyway. Brazilian striker, Figueiredo tipped the flyweight scales at 125-pounds earlier today, with his rematch with Benavidez official – this time with championship spoils up for grabs, for both contenders.
Figueiredo, 32, first met with Benavidez at UFC Fight Night Norfolk in February, and prior to the headliner, the Pará native missed weight for the first time in his promotional stint – coming in at 127.5-pounds, making him ineligible to win flyweight gold.
To make matters worse, Figueiredo would go on to score a second-round knockout over Benavidez, however, the division still had no undisputed champion.
Tomorrow night on Yas Island – an undisputed UFC flyweight championship fight will take place for the first time since January of last year when Henry Cejudo lodged his first and final title defence opposite then bantamweight best, T.J. Dillashaw.
The narrative surrounding this title clash, which includes Benavidez again, is straightforward. Not only were we greeted with the aforenoted weight-cut mishap, but seconds prior to the finish, Figueiredo and Benavidez clashed heads – drawing a massive flow of blood on the forehead of the latter. There’s unfinished business here, which hopefully – gets resolved by Sunday morning. Given the knowledge that Figueiredo has already bested Benavidez this year, we must analyse the mistakes made by the now four-time title challenger.
From the moment the first klaxon sounded, Figueiredo’s tactic of counter-striking against the onrushing Benavidez was certainly prevalent. Keeping a low centre of gravity, which has become a staple of his striking setups, Figueiredo secured an early takedown from a miscued kick of Benavidez, and similarly to his win over Tim Elliott, immediately began searching for the submission.
With Elliott, Figueiredo managed to wrap up an early guillotine, while am armbar came worryingly close for the Brazilian this time round, as Benavidez’s arm alarmingly hyperextended at the elbow. First cause of concern for the Texan; survived.
As with any counter striker, timing is key. And from that scramble which allowed Benavidez back vertical, Figueiredo began timing off his right-hand as the former winged widely upon entry with hooks. Even when the Brazilian chose to advance and shut off the Octagon, he drew the reactions from Benavidez which ultimately set up the right-hand once more. Although Benavidez was the more active fighter upon the sound of the round ending klaxon, it was clear to see whose shots were having the most effect.
Recklessness ultimately led to Benavidez’s knockout. Yes, he may have stolen the first-round based on activity and accuracy, but the mistakes made in that first frame continued up until the stoppage. Rushing in with winging hooks, and continuously walking onto Figueiredo’s right-hand counter. Even with the clash of heads in the brief tie-up, Benavidez leads into his left hook off his calf kick, with his head. As with the majority of the fight, Figueiredo walked Benavidez onto the right-hand for what seemed like an age, before eventually striking.
Given his early grappling success and ability to seemingly shrug Benavidez off in any brief clinch exchanges, it’ll prove interesting to see if Figueiredo will utilize any offensive wrestling once more. With the knowledge he can find Benavidez’s chin on cue, however, you’d have to give a distinct advantage to the Brazilian ahead of the re-run.
As noted, it wasn’t all one-way traffic in that almost eight-minute affair. Benavidez did manage to find his target in the first round, but Figueiredo’s ability to take punishment and roll with the piling hooks seen him through any potential banana peels.
Undeniably, with any rematch, the tide can turn. Just look at Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II, and even more recently, Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic II, however, I’d be in inclined to lean toward Figueiredo finally securing the flyweight throne this time around.