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Big changes are afoot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s flyweight division.
While the three title fights atop the UFC 259 bill commanded most of the attention on Saturday, Askar Askarov made some serious headway at 125 pounds by routing perennial No. 1 contender Joseph Benavidez at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. As a result, Askarov climbs from No. 5 to No. 3, where he will eagerly await the result of the Deiveson Figueiredo-Brandon Moreno rematch that’s scheduled for UFC 263 in June. In defeat, Benavidez falls from second to fourth and could be locked into a gatekeeper role for the foreseeable future.
Elsewhere, Kai Kara France heads back to the flyweight Top 10 after rallying for a scintillating first-round KO of previous No. 9 Rogerio Bontorin in a preliminary UFC 259 matchup. Adding to the upheaval in the flyweight division is the exit of former No. 3 Sergio Pettis, whose eligibility expires this month. Pettis will be gunning for Bellator MMA bantamweight gold in May, so his days as a 125-pound contender are long in the rearview mirror. Finally, Absolute Championship Akhmat title holder Azamat Kerefov joins the flyweight bubble at 15th on the strength of a six-bout tear at 125 pounds.
Note: Previous rankings listed in parentheses.
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