Deiveson Figueiredo scoffed at the mere mention of Brandon Moreno. When it was suggested that Moreno provided him the toughest bout of his career when they fought to a draw on Dec. 12 at UFC 256 in Las Vegas, Figueiredo was having none of it.
The Moreno fight was the fourth of the year for Figueiredo, who won the flyweight championship on July 20 when he choked out Joseph Benavidez on Fight Island on July 19. It came two weeks after a victory over Alex Perez at UFC 255.
Figueiredo and Moreno put on a show for the ages that night, an epic back-and-forth battle that ended in a majority draw.
“That was an amazing fight,” UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports. “If it wasn’t for the [Zhang Weili-Joanna Jedrzejczyk] fight also happening [in 2020], it would have been Fight of the Year.”
They’ll rematch on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 263 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Figueiredo, who is a -250 favorite at BetMGM, is no fan of the love that Moreno has received for his role in their classic.
“Brandon thinks he gave me a tough fight?” Figueiredo said, laughing heartily, in response to a question. “Well, that was nothing. I was sick. I was in the hospital the night before until 4 in the morning. I wasn’t healthy at all. He couldn’t beat me at my worst. Now that I feel like this, I’m going to go for the knockout and prove to everyone [that I’m the best flyweight in the world].”
Moreno is a light-hearted and easy-going guy who loves to laugh and is slow to anger. But he feels that he’s the world's best flyweight and he’s eager for another crack at Figueiredo.
He’s the first athlete from his family, and it didn’t always come easily to him. He looked like just another guy at the beginning of his career, alternating wins and losses in his first six fights.
But he’s gone 15-2-2 since that up-and-down start and hasn’t lost in more than three years.
“I’ve learned in life in general, and not just in my professional career, that I need to be very persistent,” Moreno said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “This life is crazy, you know? It’s like a roller coaster. There are a lot of good moments, but there are also bad moments. Definitely, the good moments are the best times of my life. I need to be very disciplined and I need to be very persistent in this life and that’s why I am fighting for the title.”
He got cut from the UFC after back-to-back losses, but won the LFA flyweight title after and then returned a better, more confident fighter.
In their first fight, referee Jason Herzog deducted a point from Figueiredo, which ultimately turned the bout into a draw. Without the deduction, Figueiredo would have won a unanimous decision and there likely wouldn’t be the rematch.
Figueiredo kicked Moreno low after several other fouls, including an eye poke. Figueiredo said it was Moreno’s response, and not the foul itself, that led to the point being deducted.
“I didn’t agree with it at all and it should never have been taken away,” Figueiredo said. “I guess he had been taking acting classes. He was rolling around on the floor. The referee should have come talked to me and warned me. But he sees the guy doing that acting and he bought it.”
There’s probably not going to be a lot of acting on Saturday. Punching, kicking, kneeing, elbowing and grappling, yes. And if history is a precedent, we’ll see a great fight again.
Moreno doesn’t want that weird feeling again where he wasn’t upset that he lost, but wasn’t jubilant over a victory.
“It was very difficult,” he said of hearing the bout called a draw. “Obviously, I didn’t lose, but I didn’t win, either. It was weird. It was just a different kind of emotion in that moment. To be honest, winning or losing that fight [wasn’t the most significant thing]. In my mind, I was thanking God for giving me the opportunity to live that kind of moment, an amazing war for 25 minutes with Figueiredo, a Fight of the Year contender, definitely. That made me feel so happy.”
Everyone other than the two combatants was happy after the epic battle. And we’re even happier now with the rematch just days away.
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