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Friday, January 27, 2023

Historic Fourth Meeting to Bring Resolution Between Figueiredo and Moreno

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 12: (LR) Devison Figueiredo of Brazil during the UFC 256 event at UFC APEX on December 12, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada Defeated Mexico’s Brandon Moreno in the lightweight title bout. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

For the first time in UFC history, the promotion will see the fighters face each other for the fourth time, with flyweight stars Davidson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno battling for undisputed gold and bragging rights at UFC 283.

While combat sports are no strangers to trilogies, fourth fights between rivals are even rarer. Since the end of 2020, Davidson Fiqueiredo and Brandon Moreno have gone back and forth in the race to revive lightweight boxing. Once caught on the proverbial chopping block, the revival of interest in the weight class behind the two stars offers opportunities not only for those involved, but also for the contenders behind them. That said, the star power of Figueiredo and Moreno led the UFC to book the first quadruple in promotion history, rather than finding a new opponent for the undisputed champion.

Deiveson Figueiredo enters the quartet as the defending champion, and he has held his own in two games against a familiar foe. The Brazilian breakout star won gold in 2020 on the back of longtime veteran Josef Benavidez’s dominant suspension and defended the title in a short stint against Alex Perez later that year. Most people probably forget that Figueiredo won that bout with Perez so quickly that the UFC asked him to defend his title about a month later in order to become the second straight player after a previously planned bout was cancelled. Pay-per-view headlines.

“Deus de Guerra” was the favorite going into the bout after taking a 20-1 lead going into the bout. The two engaged in an excellent five-round bout, but a couple of unintended fouls led to point deductions and the game ended in a draw. It’s worth noting that Figueiredo would have won the game had he not dropped points. In the rematch a few months later, he was favored again, but lost to Moreno’s brilliant performance. Figueiredo switched sides in the third round, partnering former two-division champion Henry Cejudo and his head coach Eric Albarracin. The work paid off as Figueiredo took back the title with a five-round win over Moreno in arguably the best performance of the series.

Brandon Moreno’s rise to UFC stardom is the feel-good story of 2021. “Assassin Baby,” a formidable fighter who grew into a serious contender, was unceremoniously dropped from the promotion list when the UFC phased out the men’s flyweight division in 2018. For a while, it seemed that then-flyweight champion Henry Cejudo would rise to bantamweight, while the UFC’s former flyweights would simply be relegated to MMA obscurity; they would be forgotten in a weight class Victims of the promotion, the promotion said there wasn’t enough public interest in the weight class.

But the MMA universe has other plans. With the split still in place, Moreno was brought back into the camp, and he then racked up four more victories to build up his title fight with Figueiredo less than a month after his last fight. While he was impressive in his first bout, it was his performance in the rematch that made him an MMA star. He put in a great performance that saw him overtake the champion over the distance before finishing the race. The win was not only a culmination of Moreno’s personal persistence in the sport, but also a breakthrough victory for Mexico, whose first athlete born in the country won the UFC title. That backing was on full display throughout the trilogy, with Moreno the crowd favorite despite a low score against Figueiredo. He was also in the draw again a few months later as he rallied to beat Kai Kara-France for a fourth meeting with his Brazilian counterpart.

After a series of dynamic contests, the fourth could provide any number of scenes, given the amount of information the two had to extract from it after spending nearly an hour together in the octagon. Entering the round, the explosive power advantage fell into the hands of Figueiredo again. He proved in the last game that he can control his energy for 25 minutes and expect the crowd to push him if the game goes to the deep end again. It was Moreno who had to make the biggest adjustment, and he needed to find out after slowing down the champions with a counter-attacking effort in the previous game. In the end, the influence of Moreno’s inability to train with coach James Krause in this crucial meeting may come into play.

Currently, strong contender Alessandro Pantoya is expected to be the frontrunner for the next title, with his current winning streak and the fact that he beat Moreno twice (once in the UFC and once in the ultimate warrior) lost to Figueiredo. If Pantoja is unavailable, former RIZIN title holder Manel Kape would be a potential option as he has won three straight and wants to join the conversation.

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