Dubai: The UFC delivered one of the most sensational and explosive fight nights of the year on Saturday in Las Vegas, highlighted by an epic flyweight contest between 125lb king Deiveson Figueiredo and challenger Brandon Moreno, which ended in victory for the champion via a ‘majority draw.’
The penultimate event of the year had always threatened to blow the roof off the UFC’s Apex Arena and it did with some hair-raising match-ups between some of the promotion’s best fighters.
Prior to the main event, Kevin Holland made history with a fifth win in 2020 with a crazy KO of Brazilian great ‘Jacare’ Souza, while Cub Swanson returned from Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction to also record a vicious KO against Daniel Pineda.
And if that was not enough the whet the appetite of the millions of MMA fans around the world, Mackenzie Dern overcame a busted nose to defeat the dangerous Virna Jandiroba in a non-holds-barred street fight.
All these stunning battles provided the perfect aperitif for the Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno which was hailed as the best fight ever in the 125lb division.
UFC President Dana White described it as the the greatest fight in flyweight history with veteran commentators Joe Rogan, Daniel Cormier and Jon Annik all in agreement.
And lest we forget former interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson’s days seemed to be over after being dominated through three rounds by surging submission specialist Charles Oliveira.
Figueredo was defending his title against No. 1 contender Brandon Moreno just 21 days after his demolition of Alex Perez at UFC 255 and the show that both fighters put on was something to savour in a sporting year that has been ravaged and disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Figueredo, who went into the contest as the big favourite, was tested to the limit by a resilient Morena with two judges scoring the fight a draw (47-47, 47-47) and one narrowly going in favour of the Brazilian (47-46).
In the end it was a point deduction for an accidental groin kick that titled the scales in favour of Figueiredo.
Figueiredo’s title defence was the culmination of a sensational year for the former bricklayer and motorcycle taxi rider, who captured his first UFC in July this year with a first-round submission of Joseph Benavidez.
As expected both Figueiredo and Moreno picked up the $50,000 bonus for Fight of the Night from the UFC.
However, there was one significant doubter to Figueiredo’s greatness – former champion Demetrious Johnson himself.
“Only time will tell if the hype is real,” Johnson said of Figueiredo. “Do I think he’s a good athlete? 1,000 per cent. But I need to see him fight more different styles and different athletes and the calibre of different guys. Then that’s when he’ll live up to the hype. A guy like Jon Jones, he’s beat (expletive) everybody, even on cocaine and testing positive and whatever. He still beat you.
“I would like to see him fight a Henry Cejudo or see him fight someone who is game and is able to win,” Johnson said. “Alex Perez got caught in that choke, he just stood up. He should’ve hand fight, do the correct things to get out of it. That’s the thing: Only time will tell. Only time’s going to tell. When I fought Joseph Benavidez the first time, I beat him up. Then we fought the second time and I knocked him out.”
But UFC supremo White was sold on the contest and said: “We’ve got to give these guys some time off – but you absolutely, positively do that rematch. That’s another fun fight for us all to look forward to in 2021.”
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno — majority draw (47-46, 47-47 x2)
Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira — Oliveira def. Ferguson by unanimous decision (30-26 x3)
Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba — Dern def. Jandiroba by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Ronaldo Souza vs. Kevin Holland — Holland def. Souza by KO at 1:45 of Round One
Junior dos Santos vs. Ciryl Gane — Gane def. dos Santos by TKO at 2:34 of Round Two
Daniel Pineda vs. Cub Swanson — Swanson def. Pineda by KO at 1:52 of Round Two
Rafael Fiziev vs. Renato Moicano — Fiziev def. Moicano by KO at 4:05 of Round One
Billy Quarantillo vs. Gavin Tucker — Tucker def. Quarantillo by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Tecia Torres vs. Sam Hughes — Torres def. Hughes by TKO at 5:00 of Round One
Peter Barrett vs. Chase Hooper — Hooper def. Barrett by submission at 3:02 of Round Three