Finally, seven months after Henry Cejudo dropped the UFC flyweight championship the belt has a new holder. Deiveson Figueiredo defeated Joseph Benavidez in round one via submission to claim the gold for the first time in his career.
He also won the Performance of the Night bonus on Sunday alongside Ariane Lipski, who beat Luana Carolina in a women's flyweight contest. Meanwhile, the Fight of the Night bonuses went to lightweights Rafael Fiziev and Marc Diakiese.
Now, let's take a look at the things to expect post yet another UFC Fight Night at the Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
FIGUEIREDO BEATS BENAVIDEZ AGAIN, THIS TIME FOR THE TITLE
Deiveson Figueiredo lit up the Flash Forum on UFC's Fight Island by finishing off his rival in just four minutes, 48 seconds of the main event and becoming the flyweight champion.
After about a minute of sizing up each other, the eventual winner put his adversary on the canvas with a brutal right hand. It looked as though the bout was done and dusted right there.
But Joseph Benavidez didn't give in as he got up on his feet after fighting off several choke attempts. However, Figueiredo established his dominance with two more knockdowns before successfully applying the rear-naked choke for the win.
“I’m a guy from Marajo island in Brazil, the Amazon region. I’m used to growing up with all the wild animals. I think I got some of that from them. I’m a ferocious guy in the Octagon,” said the champ, after his eighth triumph in UFC.
Benavidez has now lost two consecutive bouts against the same opponent without going the distance. Hence, he might not get another title fight anytime soon.
On the other hand, Figueiredo is now the king of a division which doesn't have a #1 contender. Benavidez is still ranked #2, while Brandon Moreno is #3.
One among Moreno or #5 Alex Perez could be the next challenger for the belt or both of them can fight it out in an eliminator to determine who gets the next title shot.
UFC Fight Night 172 did feature another fight between ranked flyweight contenders. The #7 contender Askar Askarov had beaten #4, Alexandre Pantoja, by unanimous decision to open the main card. This victory puts Askarov in a position to contest the eliminator as well.
So Figueiredo's flyweight division is stacked with tough contenders at the moment.
HERMANSSON MAKES QUICK WORK OF GASTELUM
The co-main event on Sunday also witnessed a first-round finish. Jack Hermansson made Kelvin Gastelum submit to the heel hook within one minute and 18 seconds of their middleweight clash.
Both the competitors had lost their previous UFC fight, with Gastelum now slumping to a three-bout losing streak after the latest defeat, and Hermansson had immediately got on top of his opponent with an early takedown.
However, Gastelum reversed the move and tried to gain an advantage. But Hermansson, within seconds, locked in the submission and completed the dominant win.
"Every time I step in there there's so much pressure. Everything I do in my life is working for this goal of becoming the best in the world," Hermansson told during the post-fight interview.
Hermansson, currently ranked #6 among UFC middleweights, now moves forward with an eye on Israel Adesanya's belt. But he needs to win at least one more bout before establishing him as a potential title challenger.
With Paulo Costa set to face champion Adesanya at UFC 253 in September, the winner of next week's encounter featuring Robert Whittaker and Darren Till will take a step closer to being next in line for a championship fight. Hermansson wants to face the victor of that contest.
"I should fight the winner of that fight between Whittaker and Till. You're going to see Adesanya and Costa. The winner of that fight is going to fight Jared Cannonier (injured star who is ranked #3 in the division) and the winner between me and Whittaker or Till is going to go for the next title shot," he added.
Gastelum, on the other hand, might have to defeat a few lower-ranked rivals before making the move up the middleweight ladder in the future.
FIZIEV AND LIPSKI PUT UP IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCES
They not only won bonuses after the event but they also caught the attention of UFC critics and fans. Rafael Fiziev and Ariane Lipski rose to the occasion and delivered on one of the grandest stages of them all in UAE.
Despite a loss to Fiziev, Diakiese didn't look weak during UFC Fight Island 2. Their lightweight bout deservedly won the Fight of the Night bonus on a day which involved several quick first-round finishes.
After losing his UFC debut to Magomed Mustafaev, which is also the only loss in his MMA career, Fiziev has won back-to-back bouts in the promotion now. He was involved in a heavy-striking encounter, which saw him batter his bloodied opponent with some clean punches and hard body kicks in the opening round.
Diakiese did retaliate in the second with some jabs and hooks of his own. But the damage done in the opener was a bit too much to recover from as Fiziev dodged some lethal strikes towards the end and kept attacking his adversary's body and bagged the win.
“I win today but from God, everything I have, what God wants, I’m happy for this,” said Fiziev following his victory.
Fiziev will now continue with his attempts of making it to the top-15 in the lightweight division, while Diakiese has to rack up a few more wins before facing a ranked contender.
Meanwhile, Lipski powered her way to a win over Luana Carolina, thanks to a kneebar submission manoeuvre. This women's flyweight contest lasted for only a minute and 28 seconds.
"I want to come back to the Octagon as soon as possible. I love to fight and entertain fans. I have much more to show than what I just showed," Lipski claimed.
Lipski is another bright prospect who is on the verge of making the top-15 in her division. A couple more victories should get her there.
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