UFC 255 | Figueiredo vs Perez Fight Picks

PHOTO: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

 

While it’s disappointing that Cody Garbrant had to pull out of the flyweight title fight against Deiveson Figueiredo, it’s always nice to see a lesser-known fighter gifted with an opportunity of a lifetime. The lucky man this time around is Alex Perez, though it’s hard to call anyone getting locked into a cage with Figueiredo lucky.   

Deiveson Figueiredo (-320) vs Alex Perez (+245)

The newly crowned flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo is an absolute terror for anyone in the 125lb weight class. On the heels of dispatching Joseph Benevidez devastatingly twice in a row, Figueiredo enters the first fight of his UFC career where he will be considered the A-side. For years the knock on the lighter weight divisions was that there was plenty of fast-paced action with a high volume of strikes, but that there weren’t any finishers. Figueiredo has abolished that notion and made a name for himself in the process. Alex Perez is getting a well-deserved opportunity in light of Garbrandt having to withdraw from the title fight. He has a very solid 6-1 record under the UFC banner and has put on entertaining performances with each outing. The Fanduel odds has Perez as a sizable underdog for good reason, as good as he is, he is fighting an incredibly dangerous fighter who is in their absolute prime and motivated to the nth degree.

It’s a tough position for Perez to be in, having to compete against Figueiredo right now is a tall order. Perez is relentless with his attacking and has great boxing combinations. He does a really good job of moving his head, has very effective ground and pound, and throws every strike with fight-ending intentions. But Figueiredo is on a serious roll, he is very composed right from the first second of the fight and that always sets the precedent. He is extremely fluid on his feet with changing stances and his overall movement. He keeps his hands low but maintains good defense. He is relentless with his blitzing attacks, he is violent in all positions. Whether it’s striking exchanges on the feet or from his back on the mat, Figueiredo is always threatening and can put you in danger out of nowhere.

At the end of the day  

The current hot streak he is riding, his ultra-aggressive style, and being an extremely strong flyweight, Figueiredo is going to be too much for Perez to deal with at this juncture. The champion will eventually land something significant, see red, and end the fight. 

Pick:Deiveson Figueiredo

Valentina Shevchenko (-1800) vs Jennifer Maia (+880)

Fanduel odds for this one says it all, anyone who has been following this sport knows anything can happen . But the reality of the women’s divisions right now is that there is a big disparity in skillset between the elite of the division and women who are not elite.  Shevchenko has been cleaning house ever since landing in the flyweight division. She is extremely efficient, she wastes no movement or energy which allows her to full power into each shot. The champion is as technically sound as can be on the feet and does her most effective work when countering. She is fast and has tremendous physical strength for the flyweight division. She has no reservations about throwing highly risky techniques like axe kicks and spinning high kicks to get the big pay off. In short, Shevchenko is a severely dangerous fighter to a woman like Jennifer Maia.

At the end of the day

Jennifer Maia is a good fighter, but Shevchenko is in a different stratosphere in terms of the level of skill set. Maia is a good boxer but she swings wildly, moves kind of awkwardly, and is susceptible to being knocked off balance. The lack of skill and experience in comparison to her counterpart is going to be too much for Maia to overcome. It’s near impossible to imagine a scenario in which Maia can hurt and or overcome Shevchenko.

Pick: Valentina Shevchenko  

Mike Perry (-142) vs Tim Means (+116)

Win or lose, Mike Perry is always entertaining. He does not take a step backward and he is just a hard fighter to deal with for anyone in the welterweight division. His fan-friendly aggressive style has brought him plenty of success, but it’s also been the catalyst for him getting into trouble in the past as well. Throwing caution to the wind and walking straight into the fire can have a big payoff if it works out, but when it doesn’t, you end up on the wrong end of a stoppage. Perry has very clean boxing, but he tends to keep his hands low, he has big power, but the punches tend to be very loopy. Tim Means will be entering his 45th professional MMA fight this Saturday. The life long martial artist is a very technically striker that has solid fundamentals, both offensively and defensively ingrained in him. He is a big welterweight standing 6’2 to Perry’s 5’10, Means is a lengthy welterweight and he uses that length very well. 

At the end of the day 

Perry brings the action and has good speed and power, but his looping hooks are tailored made for Means straight down the pipe technical striking. The fact that Perry enters his second fight in a row now essentially without a coach, and instead his pregnant girlfriend with no martial arts background. It doesn’t instill confidence when it comes time to place a bet on Fanduel. Means’ experience is going to account for a lot in this one.

Pick: Tim Means

Katlyn Chookagian (+156) vs Cynthia Calvillo (-194)

Since she failed title big, Katlyn Chookagian has been looking good. While she lost her last fight in the first round against Jessica Andrade after getting caught with a crippling body shot. She was in good form and hung in there quite well with the ultra dangerous Andrade. Calvillo will be looking to repeat the performance she had in June against Jessica Eye after being successful in her first 5 round fight. The Fanduel odds  favor Calvillo, but odds would also make perfect sense if it were to favor Chookagian. 

At the end of the day  

Chookagian has competed against tougher competition than Calvillo has throughout her career. Calvillo will give Chookagian trouble, and probably be able to control her if she gets the fight to the mat and can obtain top position. But Chookagian will use her footwork to stay on the outside, avoid the ground, and outpoint Calvillo to earn the victory.

Pick: Katlyn Chookagian

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (+152) vs Paul Craig (-188)

Since Shogun and Craig last fought to a draw, both men have returned to competition and earned a win. Shogun has most certainly slowed down over the years, he has also been showing up to fight week not looking in the best of shape. Whether it’s because of injury or lack of motivation, there is no doubting that the Shogun of today is a different fighter than in his prime of the Pride Era. While he seems to be a little shopworn after a long career of grueling wars, he still possesses his fight IQ, and he still has power. Paul Craig will have the size and strength advantage, and his style of imposing his powerful frame ought to be able to back shogun up and put him on his heels to set up fight-ending sequences. Having 12 of his 13 career wins coming by way of submission, it’s no secret as to where Craig wants this fight to end up. 

At the end of the day

Shogun may not be the 27-year-old ferocious knockout artist he once was, and he may not be amongst the elite talent in the latter stages of his career. But even being compromised state by not being in great shape and having a lower output of offense, he still is a nightmare for the mid-tier guys like Craig. Shogun will be able to catch Craig on the end of a big cross, and that’ll be the beginning of the end.

Pick: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua 

If Figueiredo can continue to be the wrecking machine that he has been as of late, it’ll be good for the flyweight division. Having a downright scary champion will only make the spotlight grow on the division as a whole. If the current champion retains the title, look for his profile as a fighter to take a significant bump in the aftermath.

Are you ready to make your fight picks? Head over to fanduel and enter the fight night contest for this weekend!

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