UFC Fight Island 2: The Fallout
By Ross Markey
Usually, when I play matchmaker in my ‘Fallout’ feature – I’ve got somewhat of an idea who I’d like to see the victor and victim paired with next. Some of the time, matchups make themselves, rather smoothly, however, determining the next challenger for the now once more undisputed UFC flyweight title is quite the task.
No matter who prevailed as the division’s best between both Deiveson Figueiredo, and Joseph Benavidez, their first title defence would be certainly a difficult one to predict.
Before the culmination of the Yas Island event on Saturday, Alexandre Pantoja and Askar Askarov were vying to take that next step toward title contention. If Pantoja scored the win, you could very easily pair him with Figueiredo in an all-Brazilian affair. Former ACB 125-pound titleholder, Askarov managed to reign victorious, but I believe he’s still missing one more major triumph to feature in his premier title tilt with the promotion.
So, who could possibly stand opposite Figueiredo and Benavidez in their next respective outings? Below, I play flyweight matchmaker.
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno:
No matter which decision I came to, I feel like I’m overlooking one of the top flyweight challengers. Let’s present the case of Brandon ‘The Assassin Baby’ Moreno. With a promotional record of 6-2-1 across his two stints in the UFC – since his return from LFA flyweight success, the 26-year-old has bested the up and coming Kai Kara-France, as well as perennial contender, in every sense of the word, Jussier Formiga.
In his return, Moreno battled to a very close split draw opposite the aforementioned, Askarov at UFC Fight Night Mexico City last September. His aforenoted victory over longtime contender, Formiga at UFC Fight Night Brasília in March – seen him earn the #3 rank at flyweight, and should see him through to his first title challenge in the UFC.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Alex Perez II:
While I’m picking Moreno as the next flyweight title challenger, fellow contender, Alex Perez came a very close second it must be noted. The Colin Oyama product featured most recently at UFC 250 in June, finishing the aforenoted, Formiga with a series of nasty calf kicks in the opening round. The 28-year-old Californian has managed three consecutive wins since his knockout defeat to Benavidez, and a rematch with the Texan would certainly propel him to title contentious with an eye-catching performance.
Sitting at #5 in the official 125-pound pile, Perez has notched triumphs over Jordan Espinosa and Mark De La Rosa to go alongside his stoppage of Formiga last month. Since his debut in the UFC back in August of 2017 following a successful performance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series – Perez has established a 6-1 record, with his single blemish coming opposite, Benavidez. Time to run this one back.