Matches to Make After UFC 255

By Brian Knapp Nov 22, 2020

Deiveson Figueiredo needed less than two minutes to communicate his latest message to the rest of the 125-pound weight class: He intends for his reign to last.

The once-beaten Brazilian retained his undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight title, as he submitted Team Oyama’s Alex Perez with a guillotine choke in the first round of their UFC 255 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Perez capitulated 1:57 into Round 1, bringing his three-fight winning streak to a close.

Figueiredo announced his intentions with a pair of brutal body kicks during the initial exchanges between champion and challenger. His ribs undoubtedly begging him to change tack, Perez closed the distance with designs on a takedown. Figueiredo denied the Dana White’s Contender Series graduate’s advances, initiated a scramble by diving on a leg lock and clamped down on the guillotine when the Californian tried to establish himself in top position. Once the choke was in place, the result became a formality.

In the aftermath of UFC 255 “Figueiredo vs. Perez,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno: Figueiredo strengthened his grip on the flyweight throne, improved to 20-1 overall and extended his winning streak to five fights by dismissing the aforementioned Perez with a first-round guillotine. At just 32 years of age, he appears to have the time and the tools necessary for an extended stay at the top of the division. Moreno, meanwhile, dug in his heels as the No. 1 contender on the undercard, where a Brandon Royval shoulder injury led to his being awarded a technical knockout in the featured prelim. “The Assassin Baby” has rattled off three straight wins, including a victory over Jussier Formiga—the only man who has beaten Figueiredo. The UFC has reportedly booked Figueiredo-Moreno for UFC 256 on Dec. 12.

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade: One of the UFC’s most dominant and respected champions, Shevchenko retained her women’s flyweight crown with a lopsided unanimous decision over Jennifer Maia in the co-main event. All three judges scored it 49-46. Shevchenko outlanded the Chute Boxe export by a 249-94 margin and tied a career-high with five completed takedowns, doing the vast majority of her work on the ground. “Bullet” appears to be well on her way to cleaning out the 125-pound weight class. Andrade dazzled in her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Night 180, where the former strawweight champion cut down Katlyn Chookagian with punches to the body in the first round of their Oct. 17 encounter.

Tim Means vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio-Muslim Salikhov: Means ignored all the distractions associated with facing Mike Perry, handled his business like a true professional and took a unanimous decision from the “Platinum” lightning rod in their three-round welterweight showcase. Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Means doubled Perry in the significant strikes landed department, 128-64, increased his output in each round and steered clear of danger against an all-or-nothing homerun hitter. The former King of the Cage champion put his extensive weaponry on display, including the short-range elbows for which he has become known. Ponzinibbio will meet Salikhov at a UFC Fight Night event on Jan. 16.

Katlyn Chookagian vs. Lauren Murphy: Though she did not set the world on fire with her efforts, Chookagian nevertheless emerged with a unanimous decision over Cynthia Calvillo in their three-round women’s flyweight feature. The former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder drew 30-27 nods of affirmation from all three judges and kept her spot near the top of the 125-pound weight class. Chookagian, 31, has won four of her last six fights, losing only to Andrade and Shevchenko. Murphy pushed her run of consecutive wins to four on Oct. 24, when she dispatched organizational newcomer Liliya Shakirova with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their UFC 254 pairing. It was the first submission victory of the 37-year-old MMA Lab rep’s career.

Paul Craig vs. Jimmy Crute: Craig may have unwittingly closed the book on the career of an all-time great, as he struck 2005 Pride Fighting Championships Middleweight Grand Prix winner and former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua into submission in the second round of their rematch at 205 pounds. Rua, who turns 39 in matter of days, surrendered 3:36 into Round 2. Since his knockout loss to Alonzo Menifield in June 2019, Craig has compiled a 3-0-1 record across four appearances and emerged as a Top 15 contender in the light heavyweight division. Crute last competed at UFC Fight Night 180, where he punched out Modestas Bukauskas on Oct. 17.
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