We have one of the coveted title Fight Nights from Norfolk, Virginia this Saturday when a new Flyweight champion will be crowned as Henry Cejudo vacates his once-defended belt in favor of the Bantamweight division. Fighting to earn gold and the #1 slot of the 125ers will be hard-hitting Deiveson Figueiredo and long-standing top Flyweight Joseph Benavidez.
On top of that, we have the entirety of the Women’s Featherweight division minus Nunes and a killer LHW matchup sure to be fireworks!
Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo (FLW)
Now that Demetrious Johnson has made his way over to ONE, Joseph Benavidez (28-5, 15-3 UFC) is getting his best shot at the belt he has ever had. Benavidez has solid hands and mixes his shots up to the body and the head extremely well. On the mat, Benavidez holds 9 submissions with 5 coming in by way of guillotine choke. As a Team Alpha Male staple, Benavidez is one of the OG wrestler-boxers and has the well-rounded and disciplined game to make a true great champion.
Deiveson Figueiredo (15-1, 4-1 UFC) has made his name known through his power, something not often seen by Flyweights. He fights with an odd style, relying on his power over his volume, where he points that power right at his opponents and lulls them into a defensive stance. “Deus de Guerra” also has an array of submissions as well, though most of them defensive, coming from his wrestling game. Figueiredo’s only defeat in the UFC came to Jussier Formiga, where he was controlled on the mat and not able to utilize his finishing ways.
This is one killer match in a division often overlooked, both by fans and the UFC. In this match, however, we have two of the best finishers the 125 pound division has to offer. While Deiveson brings in a new challenge and fun opportunity with the power that he has, his volume is lackluster and the fear of a bomb isn’t likely to scare away Joseph, who has only been finished once by Flyweight GOAT Mighty Mouse. Benavidez’s ground skills and elite scrambling tactics will be the difference maker, where he can control Figueiredo until he finds a late submission.
Take the Shot: Joseph Benavidez via Round 4 Submission
Brendan Allen vs. Tom Breese (MW)
A first-round submission on the Contender Series gave way to a UFC contract for Brendan Allen (13-3, 1-0 UFC), with which he received another submission victory, this time over Contender Series vet Kevin Holland. Despite only being a jiu-jitsu brown belt, Allen has morphed BJJ beautifully into his MMA game and much prefers to get the fight to the ground. For good reason, too. Although he has scored 4 knockouts in his 16-fight career, Allen cannot compete in the striking with many UFC fighters, so he prefers to roll on the mat using his top-notch scrambling ability and reversals to find his way to the finish.
Tom Breese (11-1, 4-1 UFC) entered the Octagon back in 2015 but has only had one bout since June of 2016 to present, as a number of personal matters and injuries left him sidelined. Training out of the world-renowned TriStar gym, Breese began as a jiu-jitsu ace with 6 wins by submission, yet racked up three first-round knockouts after joining the UFC. Breese has incredible boxing and range utilization, but is more than comfortable on the mat as he frequents grappling tournaments like Polaris and GrappleFest.
Allen is an impressive talent, but a way too linear one at that. His gameplay is assuredly to bum rush his opponent and try to turn it into a grappling match without any space or time to really show off his disadvantages in the striking department. That blitzing style is not sustainable against the lanky Breese, who is way too experienced in backing out of corners and letting his hands fly when pressured. On top of that, even if Allen was to drag the fight to the mat, the black belt in Breese is a deadly submission expert with a penchant for unique finishes and locks. Breese draws out the younger Allen before subduing him with strikes late in the second.
Take the Shot: Tom Breese via Round 2 Knockout
Ion Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev (LHW)
Ion Cutelaba (15-4, 4-3 UFC) has consistently been one of my favorite fighters in a fun division. Before coming to the UFC, he had only seen one fight go to the second round and he has replicated that success in the world’s greatest proving ground, earning three of his four UFC wins by violent first round finish. He has unreal power at Light Heavyweight and great foundational wrestling, especially in scrambles. However, his biggest issue has consistently been his gas tank and wearing himself out too early with his surging pressure. If you can withstand a furious first round, you have a good shot to win against Cutelaba.
Russian striking sensation Magomed Ankalaev (12-1, 3-1 UFC) should technically be undefeated, but after a dominant showing against Paul Craig in his UFC debut, Ankalaev succumbed to a literal last-second submission attempt. Since then he has rattled off three straight victories, two of which being violent finishes. Ankalaev has great striking, boasting an incredible 68% striking defense and a fairly constant pressure. On top of that, he has well-timed reversals and clinch skills, making it incredibly difficult to take him down to the mat.
The largest hole in Ankalaev’s game presents itself in his close range striking, where he has a tendency to absorb shots. That is exactly where Cutelaba shines with his pressure and forward-rushing style. Is Ankalaev the better and more technical striker? Without question. However, he requires range and his own pacing. Ankalaev likes to push his own shots and be the one pressuring, yet Cutelaba is a different kind of pressure. If Ankalaev can survive the first round, his striking and ground defense make it an easy decision win, yet the berserker style of “The Hulk” won’t let it go there.
Take the Shot: Ion Cutelaba via Round 1 Knockout
Ismail Naurdiev vs. Sean Brady (WW)
One of the best prospects added to the UFC roster in 2019, Ismail Naurdiev (19-3, 2-1 UFC) has demonstrated his striking and grappling prowess, defeating longtime UFC staples in Siyar Bahadurzada and Michel Prazares, yet faltering to the top control of Chance Rencountre. Naurdiev is a beast on the feet, throwing dangerous shots with precision, nearly getting the finish in both of his victories, while boasting an 80% striking defense rate. His ground game, on the other hand, is extremely skillful when used in offense but Naurdiev struggles at getting back to his feet.
Sean Brady (11-0, 1-0 UFC) made good on his UFC debut, outworking Court McGee in a decision. 6 of Brady’s fights have gone the distance but he has real power, especially in the first round. Brady prefers to use his striking in boxing range, throwing hands quickly to best utilize the speed advantage that he will often have since the former LFA champion does not cut any weight to size in for 170 pounds. Sean does bring in some decent wrestling, but is less skilled in technique and more bullies with his size, often settling to score the takedown and control for a few seconds to get the edge in points. The difference maker for Brady is his cardio, he can withstand barrages then pour it on as his opponent’s wither.
Naurdiev is a nightmare for Brady in the striking with his constant forward pressure and range utilization, where he is capable of holding the fight in a distant kickboxing range, darting in and out to score his power shots. That’s not a good sign in the slightest when looking at Brady’s preferred method of in-the-pocket kickboxing. While Brady has some grappling that poses a threat to Naurdiev, his caliber of grappling is significantly underwhelming when looking at Prazares and Rencountre, as he likely won’t have the size or technique to bully the Austrian on the mat.
Take the Shot: Ismail Naurdiev via Unanimous Decision
We got some nice options here to make some coin, all with fairly close odds.
My personal advice for this one is to lay off the parlays as we have a number of matches with some one-hitter quitters.
Until next time, Freaks.