You have to feel for Joseph Benavidez, the guy is one of the most respected fighters in the game amongst his peers and fans alike. A pioneer of the lighter weight fighters and a true veteran of the sport. If you take one glance at social media post-UFC Fight Island 3, you’ll notice the number tweets that are an outpouring of support for Benavidez from fans and fellow fighters surpasses the tweets of praise for the new undisputed flyweight champion by a wide margin.
An unparalleled level of respect from the MMA universe that was earned throughout an impressive 14 year professional mixed martial arts career. It would be fair to say that the vast majority of the fan base was pulling for Joe B to finally achieve the elusive championship title. But as anyone who has been following this sport for any meaningful period knows, this game couldn’t care less about anyone’s hopes for a storybook ending.
Every once in a while, an absolute monster will get inserted into the picture and wreak havoc on all of our hopes and dreams, and this weekend, Deivson Figueiredo was that monster. The Brazillian’s road to this fight was as chaotic as the title fight itself. After initially being believed to have tested positive for COVID-19, only for it later to be revealed that the test was a false positive, Figueiredo was cleared to travel. After a delay in arriving at the United Arab Emirates, Figueiredo finally made it to his destination this past Tuesday and was able to proceed with the weight cut and successfully beat the scale in the process.
Man, feel terrible for Joe B
— Funky (@Benaskren) July 19, 2020
The first fight against Benavidez started violently and ended violently, and the rematch at UFC Fight Island 3 was no different. As much as we all feel for Benavidez, and as much as the narrative sounding this fight (both times) was about him. Figueiredo was not only successful in steamrolling his opponent on Saturday but finally taking over the spotlight as well.
The Brazillian looked amazing in the first contest, and the fight-ending sequence was far more impressive than he was given credit for. After Benavidez charged into the pocket and collided heads with Figueiredo opening and a nasty gash on his forehead, Figueiredo showed how composed and cerebral he was when he instantly recognized the panic on Benevidez’s face. Without hesitation and with laser-sharp focus, Figueiredo stepped inside the pocket at the same moment Benevidez was touching his forehead to assess the damage and launched a stiff piston right hand. The massive power behind the strike was perfectly placed and fully absorbed by Benevidez sending him crashing to the mat, brutally ending the night.
As scary of a man he proved himself to be that night, he essentially received no credit whatsoever for the feat, thanks mostly to the fact that he missed weight for the contest, which is fair enough. The lack of appreciation also came from the fact that the beginning of the end came as a result of an unintentional head collision, no fault of his own.
But in this second outing, Figueiredo left zero reasons for doubt. He not only left no room for doubt but looked sensational in the process. As he calmly and methodically dropped Benevidez from god awful heavy punches, and aggressively jumped on his back and smothered and strangled him to no end. The win was violent and nasty, and a violent and nasty champion is just what the flyweight division ordered.
Brutal finish by Figueiredo #UFCFightIsland
— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) July 19, 2020
The flyweight division and bantamweight division have long been criticized for lack of punching power and finishes, and in one trip to fight island, the 125 and 135-pound divisions are now home to two of the scariest individuals the UFC roster has to offer.
Deivseon Figueiredo did a lot more than hurt a lot of fans’ feelings on Saturday, he entered the octagon and commanded the spotlight that’s been avoiding him these past couple of fights. But it can avoid him no longer because with a second mauling of one of the faces of the flyweight division, Figueiredo has officially made a name for himself and the newfound attention and respect from the fans is about to come on strong.