Flyweight Titles on The Line

This Saturday night, two dominant flyweight champions will be looking to add on to their already impressive records as men’s flyweight champion Deiveson “Deus da Guerra” Figueiredo takes on Alex Perez in the main event. In the co-main event, women’s flyweight champion Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko takes on Jennifer Maia at UFC 255.

Figueiredo is only the third men’s flyweight champion in UFC history, and already one of the most dominant champions we have without even having a title defense. Figueiredo first fought for the vacant title in February against perennial contender Joseph Benavidez, though Figueiredo missed weight and was to win the flyweight title.

Benavidez started round one strong, landing good shots to Figueiredo, while Figueiredo had Benavidez in an armbar that Benavidez escaped. Benavidez and Figueiredo clashed heads during the second round, and shortly after Figueiredo was able to land a devastating right hand that sat Benavidez down, allowing Figueiredo to win by TKO.

Since Figueiredo missed weight and UFC officials believed the headbutt changed the course of the fight, the two faced off in a rematch in July for the flyweight title. Figueiredo made weight and this time there wasn’t any controversy. Figueiredo dominated the fight, knocking Benavidez down multiple times until he secured a rear-naked choke late in the first that put Benavidez to sleep.

Figueiredo currently holds an impressive 19-1 record. Figueiredo has heavy hands and such a slick submission game. Figueiredo has only been to a decision four times in his career. After just securing the flyweight belt, Figueiredo is on a mission to put himself in the conversation of “greatest champions in UFC history.”

Perez, currently ranked No.4, secured his UFC contract after winning on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017. He locked up an anaconda choke to put his opponent to sleep in the first round. Perez is currently 6-1 in the UFC, with his only loss in the UFC coming by TKO by Benavidez.

In Perez’s last fight, he faced flyweight contender Jussier Formiga at UFC 250. Perez won by first round TKO when Formiga couldn’t stand after suffering brutal leg kicks by Perez. Before that, Perez fought Jordan Espinosa in January and won by putting Espinosa to sleep with an arm-triangle choke.

Perez is currently riding a 3-fight win streak and is a very promising talent. Perez is the first fighter from the Contender Series to fight for a UFC title. If Perez can beat Figueiredo this Saturday, he’ll no doubt shock the world and have the whole MMA world focusing on him.

Shevchenko is the second-best female fighter on the planet. Shevchenko fought at bantamweight when she first joined the UFC, beating the likes of Juliana Pena and former champion Holly Holm. Shevchenko’s biggest rival was current bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko lost to Nunes twice - with the last time being for the bantamweight belt. Many fans, Shevchenko included, truly disagreed with Nunes retaining the bantamweight belt.

After the announcement of the women’s flyweight division in 2017, it was a no-brainer to have Shevchenko fight for the vacant belt. Instead, the UFC had The Ultimate Fighter return with Nicco Montano winning to become the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion. After Montano was difficult during negotiations to fight Shevchenko and then pulled out of their fight, the UFC stripped Montano and booked Valentina Shevchenko against former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 - Shevchenko won by unanimous decision. Shevchenko has defended her flyweight belt three times, with two TKO/KO victories and one decision. Shevchenko is a well-rounded fighter with great grappling and kickboxing combos. Shevchenko is so dominant that I don’t see her being beat anytime soon.

Maia, currently ranked No.3, debuted in the UFC in July of 2018 against former title challenger Liz Carmouche. Maia lost her debut by unanimous decision but bounced back in her next two fights with Alexis Davis and Roxanne Modafferi.

Maia’s biggest opponent are the scales, as she missed weight by three pounds for the Modafferi fight and again by 1.2 pounds before her UFC 244 match with Katlyn Chookagian at UFC 244 (Maia lost the fight by unanimous decision).

Maia last fought against Joanne Calderwood in August. Calderwood was previously scheduled to fight for the flyweight title, but Shevchenko had to pull out. Wanting to stay busy, Calderwood fought Maia. Maia pulled off the upset win by securing an armbar in the first round to beat Calderwood and become next for the title.

I believe Maia’s only advantage she has against Shevchenko is her Jiu-Jitsu. Shevchenko is so dominant everywhere that it’s hard to see any areas she’s weak, but Maia can definitely pull off another upset if the fight hits the floor and Maia uses her submissions to beat Shevchenko.

Figueiredo and Shevchenko are two of the most dominant champions we have right now in the UFC that I don’t see anyone beating them anytime soon. Figueiredo and Shevchenko will decide on their own when they are done being dominant champions. With that said, I’m picking Figueiredo to win by first round knockout, and Shevchenko to win by third round TKO. Catch all of the amazing fights this Saturday on ESPN+ PPV!

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