#1 Deiveson Figueiredo and #2 Joseph Benavidez face off in a second running of their Flyweight title showdown, after Figueiredo was prevented from lifting the belt, despite winning, due to missing weight. UFC Fight Night 172, 19 July 2020.

The UFC continues their rampant production of UFC fight cards during the pandemic while other sports tentatively open up bit piece. Taking place on Fight Island for the third card in a row, it has only further understated the need to use the smaller-sized apex cage for unattractive preliminary matches to prevent three-round snoozefests. Tonight’s card has a surprising amount of brand value names that are at least recognisable with Wikipedia pages. Unfortunately, they find themselves in stylistically favourable match-ups or worthless fights in regards to the rankings.

The main event is just a straight-up replay of the previous Flyweight title fight. The vacant title left by the former Flyweight and Bantamweight champion, Henry Cejudo’s, retirement remains open. Deiveson Figueiredo, a fan favourite in a division that lacks star power and characters, managed to secure the title with an emphatic knockout of Joseph Benavidez. The issue? Figueiredo missed weight by two pounds and thus surrendered his right to the belt. Therefore, the UFC has probably chosen the correct path in fixing an immediate rematch of their top two flyweights for the title – even if this is Benavidez’ tenth or twentieth title shot.

As a co-main, Hermansson and Gastelum, will be a spicy affair with repercussions on the directions of both men’s careers. Hermansson was on a crazy streak, making Jacare Souza look downright foolish over twenty-five minutes, as well as out grappling solid contenders in David Branch and Gerald Meerschaert. Unfortunately, Hermansson seems to have a mental block against the striking cream of the crop, and was blitzed out in two rounds by Jared Cannonier. Although Gastellum isn’t a one-punch knockout artist, his lethal speed, especially on combination shots (leaning on his 1-2 heavily), means Gastellum has earned himself a reputation as a striker rather than initial recognition as a wrestler. A loss for both men would continue an unwelcome losing streak, and would surely see a sharp decline in their rankings at middleweight. A win would allow a fast-tracking for the title shot after the future Adesanya vs Costa bout.

Side Note: Pleased to report that there have been no last-minute Neo-Nazi match-up cancellations by the UFC this fight card. Not because of this fact, but because the card simply does not inspire me, this will be a brief run-down of the fights.

Deiveson Figueiredo and his pet buffalo ferdinand : ufc
Deiveson Figueiredo straight up vibzing with his pet Buffalo, Ferdinand, rocking American themed shorts that would make true US patriot Paulo Costa swoon.

Main Card

Flyweight (125)

Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) vs Joseph Benavidez (28-6)

Benavidez has a terrible habit of throwing with his chin on the platter for his opponent to strike cleanly. Often, Benavidez can overwhelm his opponents, leaving them unable to take advantage of such a prized opportunity. Poor chin placement only becomes an issue for Joe when his strikes seemingly have no effect, as was seen in the first showdown between these two men. Benavidez damn near threw the kitchen sink at Figueriredo who stood in the centre of the octagon and shrugged off the shots with his crazed posturing. Either due to a mental snap or increasing fatigue after a series of explosive exchanges, Figueriredo pulled ahead in the second round and knocked out Benavidez with a stunning right hand.

Figueiredo is a beatable fighter. Every time Figueiredo appears in the octagon, it would appear that he has entered with no real game plan. This is not comparable to an elite striker, e.g. Anderson Silva or Israel Adesanya, who can sit back to read an opponent before planning a strategy inside the octagon themselves. Figueiredo is temperamental in his fighting, spamming a specific technique or combination four or five times, before abruptly switching to another weapon in his arsenal. Sure, this makes him hard to read for his opponent, but it also means that Figueiredo often fails to press obvious advantages against his opponent. Figueiredo is blessed with power in a division devoid of the star-making attribute, and as such tends to rely on it. Expect a short-lasting banger between these two men, but don’t expect Figueiredo to reign long as champion unless he can mature as a fighter.

Predicted Result: Figueiredo Round 3 TKO

If Benavidez doesn’t swarm Figgy with his moronic head-up wild arm punches, then he has a real chance to win a decision by out-striking his opponent with cleaner technique and volume. More likely, Figueiredo lands a powerful shot at some point during the bout and switches Benavidez’ lights out once again.

Manager: Deiveson Figueiredo open to Joseph Benavidez rematch in ...
Figueiredo attempts to pry open the grip of Benavidez in order to secure an armbar during their first Flyweight title bout at UFC on ESPN+ 27, 29 February 2020.

Result: Figueiredo def. Benavidez // Submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1 4:48

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Co-Main Event

Middleweight (185)

Jack Hermansson (20-5) vs Kelvin Gastelum (16-5)

If the fight goes to the ground, Hermansson becomes a heavy heavy favourite. Despite Gastelum being out-pointed in his most recent fight against Darren Till, Kelvin is still very much the stronger striker in this bout. Worryingly for Gastelum, Till was able to secure a takedown at ease, a fighter not necessarily known for his exceptional wrestling ability. More worryingly, Hermansson fights with volume and a soaring pace, meaning Gastelum will likely find himself out-hustled on the feet by virtue of activity.

Gastelum needs to have had a long word with himself following his defeat to Till. Coming into the fight as a heavy favourite, Gastelum looked lost as he was frequently unable to close the distance against Till and even when successful, was hit often with an elbow upon exiting the clinch. Gastelum can bang, he has shown it against a host of UFC veterans (Bisping, Kennedy, Marquardt), but he needs to diversify his striking. Spamming 1-2s like a video-game is not enough at the higher levels of the sport, especially when your opponent has the reach to fire off jabs outside of your effective striking range.

Predicted Result: Hermansson Decision

Hermansson is a competent enough striker to set up his takedowns with relative ease. Gastelum is slippery off his back and will get up frequently. Thus, a cycle of tame striking exchange, takedown, a minute of ground control, Gastelum exits, will repeat over the three rounds.

UFC Fort Lauderdale results: Jack Hermansson pours it on to defeat ...
Jack Hermansson channels his inner Street Jesus as he launches himself into a flying knee turned superman punch against Jacare Souza, UFC Fight Night 150. 27 April 2019.

Result: Hermansson def. Gastelum // Submission (heel hook) Round 1 1:18

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Main Card

Lightweight (155)

Marc Diakiese (14-3) vs Rafael Fiziev (7-1)

Essentially this fight is whether Diakiese can keep control of his base instincts to wild out on an opponent for fifteen minutes. Fiziev is a powerful hooker, and Diakiese has shown in the past his ability to mentally switch off at the most inopportune of moments. But the stark improvements to Diakiese’s game since his three-loss streak over 2017-2018; incorporating rangey 1-2s, powerful leg kicks and an attritional grappling game, suggests that Diakiese is a fighter reborn.

Predicted Result: Diakiese Decision

Solid decisions over Joe Duffy and Lando Vannata has shown there is still potential for Diakiese within the UFC.

Result: Fiziev def. Diakiese // Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Ariane Lipski (12-5) vs Luana Carolina (6-1)

Lipski came into the UFC with a huge amount of hype before Joanne Calderwood embarrassed her on the feet. A decision loss to Molly McCann straight after did nothing to help the career of Lipski and as such has had to return to fighting lower ranked opposition. Luana Carolina looked solid enough on Dana White’s contender series, opting for volume striking, but a victory over Priscila Cachoeira does nothing but explain that you have perhaps trained longer than six months.

Predicted Result: Lipski TKO 3

Carolina’s poor striking defence and inability to take the fight to the ground in emergencies, combined with the exceptional athleticism of Lipski, means it will turn into a bloody affair.

Result: Lipski def. Carolina // Submission (kneebar) Round 1 1:28

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Flyweight (125)

Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) vs Askar Askarov (11-0-1)

Pantoja is a fluid fighter who transitions well between his striking and grappling, whereas Askarov tends to stick with one facet per round and committing entirely to it. Both men are quality fighters yet Pantoja’s experience within the UFC will prove itself tonight.

Predicted Result: Pantoja Decision

An extremely balanced affair with Pantoja edging out Askarov on the scorecards through high volume and more effective grappling.

Result: Askarov def. Pantoja // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Preliminary Card

Light Heavyweight (205)

Khadis Ibragimov (8-2) vs Roman Dolidze (6-0)

Crikey, this is certainly a match. Ibragimov is 0-2 in the UFC against very timid opposition (Da Un Jung and Ed Herman), whilst Dolidze spent all of 2019 and the first half of 2020 waiting for his UFC debut due to injuries and coronavirus causing the cancellation of three fights. Both men are not UFC calibre.

Predicted Result: Dolidze TKO Round 2

Sad state of affairs this fight, going to go with the unbeaten and unproven Georgian.

Result: Dolidze def. Ibragimov // TKO (knee and punches) Round 1 4:15

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

Featherweight (150)

Grant Dawson (15-1) vs Nad Narimani (12-3)

Lovely little scrap in the murkier recesses of the featherweight division. Grant Dawson is an explosive striker who focuses on all-guns blazing approach, a very fan friendly style. Narimani’s striking defence was partly exposed in his last match against Mike Grundy, but Narimani should still be regarded as a well-rounded fighter.

Predicted Result: Dawson Decision

Both men are unlikely to last long if they are ever to break into the stacked featherweight top fifteen rankings.

Result: Dawson def. Narimani // Decision (unanimous – 30-26, 30-27, 29-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Lightweight (155)

Joel Alvarez (16-2) vs Joe Duffy (16-4)

Hell yeah, a hidden gem within the undercard. Alvarez loves to fight on the ground, and excitingly too. Using ground and pound to open up opponent’s defensive shells and secure submissions, Alvarez is a rising threat in the lightweight division. Duffy is a stand-up boxer through and through. With a solid jab and a beautiful left hook to the body, Duffy will have to be on his A-game if he is to keep the action on the feet.

Predicted Result: Alvarez Decision

Alvarez is too strong and too technically gifted for this fight to not end up on the mat, a realm where he can expose the flaws in Duffy’s skillset.

Result: Alvarez def. Duffy // Submission (guillotine choke) Round 1 2:25

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌

Bantamweight (135)

Brett Johns (16-2) vs Montel Jackson (9-1)

Johns is a fantastic pressure grappler who was unfortunate enough to face off with Bantamweight beasts Pedro Munhoz and Aljamain Sterling. Dropping decisions to the elite of the division is not career ending, however. Jackson has looked competent enough in beating the middling opposition that Bantamweight has to offer (Brian Kelleher and Andre Soukhamthath) and has the strength to out-muscle Johns in the grappling and keep the fight standing.

Predicted Result: Johns Decision

Johns is an underrated fighter, simple as. More technical in the grappling department, Johns can maintain top control if he is able to trick Jackson onto the mat.

Result: Johns def. Jackson // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Flyweight (125)

Malcolm Gordon (12-3) vs Amir Albazi (12-1)

Two UFC debutants, not a clue on this one. Gordon is a grappler/submission specialist, whilst Albazi leans toward striking on the ground. Albazi looked solid in Bellator during his two-fight spree, but neither Gordon nor Albazi have ever had a UFC quality litmus test.

Predicted Result: Gordon Submission Round 3

Coronavirus really did hit UFC matchmakers, huh?

Result: Albazi def. Gordon // Submission (triangle choke) Round 1 4:42

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌

Lightweight (155)

Davi Ramos (10-3) vs Arman Tsarukyan (14-2)

Both men love a submission, with both having had a three-fight streak of rear-naked chokes, surely a record? Tsarukyan is being pushed by the UFC as a potential star and it is understandable, his freestyle wrestling is performed at a pulsating pace and will overwhelm Ramos.

Predicted Result: Tsarukyan Decision

This is an extremely grappling-heavy card, casuals looking for ‘just bleed’ affairs will do well to avoid this one.

Result: Tsarukyan def. Ramos // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Heavyweight (265)

Sergey Spivak (10-2) vs Carlos Felipe (8-0)

Ew, gross heavyweight fight. Spivak can wrestle a bit, but not enough to beat perennial gatekeeper Marcin Tybura. Carlos Felipe can hit hard, a staple quality of the heavyweight division.

Predicted Result: Spivak Decision

Sure, Felipe could sleep him in the first. I expect fifteen minutes of exhausted grappling I will never get back, however.

Result: Spivak def. Felipe // Decision (majority – 28-28, 29-27, 29-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️

Prediction Accuracy

UFC Fight Night 172: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2

Winner: 9/12

Method: 8/12

Round: 6/12

2020 MMA Season

Winner: 43/78

Method: 41/78

Round: 36/78

Takeaway comments: Scandinavian blood Gods make me a happy man.

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