Deiveson Figueiredo dominated Joseph Benavidez to cap off the third predominant occasion on Battle Island and develop into the UFC flyweight champion. The primary-round end featured an incredible show of placing energy, grappling and finally a profitable submission. Benavidez confirmed unbelievable coronary heart, surviving a number of rear-naked choke makes an attempt, however he could not work out a technique to keep away from Figuereido’s grasp.
Figueiredo would be the solely man strolling away with gold on Saturday, however he was removed from the one standout on the night time. There have been quite a few spectacular finishes, together with devastating kicks, triangles, a kneebar and extra. There have been additionally rising prospects who made statements, and some surprises.
Marc Raimondi, Jeff Wagenheim and Phil Murphy react to the largest moments from UFC Battle Evening, together with Jack Hermansson’s heel hook win over Kelvin Gastelum within the co-main occasion.
Who’s subsequent for the principle occasion and co-main occasion fighters?
Murphy on Figueiredo: After lacking weight for his title shot in February, Figueiredo’s dream state of affairs performed out Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
Three choices stand out for Figueiredo’s first true protection, so as of the UFC flyweight rankings: Brandon Moreno, Alex Perez and Askar Askarov. Recency bias — which is actual in fight sports activities — suggestions Askarov, who opened the principle card Saturday with an eye-opening win over Alexandre Pantoja. For me, although, I am going to decide Moreno for 2 causes.
First, “The Murderer Child” was unfortunate to attract Askarov when the 2 met September in Mexico Metropolis. In a sport through which “theft” will get bandied about for each shut resolution, Moreno was robbed; he ought to have gained that battle.
Each bit as necessary, Moreno presents a stand-and-trade stylistic matchup in opposition to the aggressive Figueiredo that can make followers salivate. E book it as a pay-per-view co-main or cable predominant occasion. Then, go forward and make out the Battle of the Evening bonus checks to these two. They’re going to earn it.
Raimondi on Benavidez: I’ve a coverage to not ever say if a fighter ought to retire. Merely, that is how fighters select to make a residing and if there’s a promoter who’s prepared to pay them to proceed to compete, then extra energy to them. I can not fault it. Generally, there are circumstances that get uncomfortable, like when a fighter has gotten knocked out too many occasions. That’s not a difficulty right here in any respect. Benavidez remains to be probably the greatest flyweight fighters on the planet, like he has been for a few decade.
At 35 years previous and with completely nothing to show to anybody, Benavidez might step away proper now and everybody would perceive. “Joe B” is among the most beloved fighters on the roster, by the followers and his friends. Benavidez can be an clever man and will do any variety of issues sooner or later. His thought to showcase fighter trend has led to a preferred social media following for his model Dapper Scrappers.
If he does wish to battle once more, nice. Somebody like Brandon Moreno would supply an important opponent, seeing as he is one of many few elite flyweights who Benavidez has not already overwhelmed.
Jack Hermansson and his coach clown round following a submission win over Kelvin Gastelum and Hermansson will get tossed to the canvas for messing along with his coach an excessive amount of.
Murphy on Jack Hermansson: Hermansson’s heel hook not solely will get the Scandinavian again within the win column nevertheless it leaves him recent for a turnaround at his leisure — luckily for Hermansson, he absorbed Zero vital strikes. Sadly, the outcome complicates the top-tier at 185 kilos.
It isn’t fairly so simple as the Joker specified by his postfight dialog with Paul Felder.
Former champ Robert Whittaker and Darren Until meet in subsequent week’s predominant occasion. The winner places himself within the middleweight No. 1 contender dialog. Jared Cannonier — who knocked out Hermansson final September — can be ready within the wings.
There isn’t any incentive for Cannonier to face Hermansson proper now, nor do I foresee the Whittaker-Until winner wanting down the ladder to the damaging Norwegian-Swede. The loser of Whittaker-Until makes much more sense. It supplies him alternative for a high quality rebound, and Hermansson can show he actually belongs among the many division’s elite.
Wagenheim on Kelvin Gastelum: After his third straight loss, Gastelum wants a confidence builder. The place’s he going to seek out it? Most likely not within the high 10. Gastelum got here in at No. 7 in ESPN’s middleweight rankings, forward of Hermansson, “Jacare” Souza (whom Gastelum has already defeated) and Bellator fighter Rafael Lovato Jr.
So the place can he go however farther downward? Possibly Gastelum ought to battle the winner of subsequent weekend’s assembly between veteran Derek Brunson and younger Edmen Shahbazyan — placing Gastelum in both a gatekeeper bout or a showdown of rebuilding 185-pounders.
Which prospect had probably the most spectacular efficiency?
Davi Ramos feels the stress as Arman Tsarukyan goes on an all-out assault with a pleasant show of placing.
Murphy: When you tuned in late Saturday, return and discover Arman Tsarukyan dismantling UFC veteran Davi Ramos.
Coming in, the technique appeared easy for Tsarukyan: Hold it on the toes and out-point the Brazilian. Ramos, in any case, is a adorned grappler with medals at a number of main worldwide occasions and has earned seven of eight MMA finishes by submission.
However Tsarukyan regarded totally comfy in Ramos’ guard and rolled out of an early leglock with obvious ease. On the toes, the Armenian almost tripled Ramos in strikes, going an unofficial 18-for-18 attacking the legs, and landed sufficient third-round left arms to summon the cageside doctor.
Throw in that Tsarukyan is barely 23 years previous — nonetheless years away from his prime — his efficiency generated extra pleasure for the long run than the opposite spectacular prospects Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
Raimondi: I can not say sufficient about Tsarukyan. He regarded fairly spectacular in a choice loss to the excellent Islam Makhachev final 12 months, however every thing clicked for Tsarukyan within the win over Ramos on Saturday night time. Tsarukyan’s placing regarded a lot improved. However what was most spectacular was his grappling.
Ramos is a chiseled, well-built Brazilian jiu-jitsu monster. Tsarukyan wasn’t simply not afraid of Ramos’ grappling — he truly took him down a number of occasions. At 23 years previous, the Armenian-born Tsarukyan goes to be an actual drawback. The UFC’s light-weight division is the very best within the promotion, however a well-rounded prospect with wonderful wrestling and floor work will get plenty of wins.
Wagenheim: The place do we start? This battle card, like Wednesday’s, didn’t have the star energy of final weekend’s three-title-fight occasion. However there have been prospects up and down Saturday’s lineup, and there are a number of instructions to look, actually, in deciphering who was most spectacular. I am going with Rafael Fiziev, a 27-year-old out of Krygszstan who coaches Muay Thai within the martial arts self-discipline’s birthplace, Thailand. He was going through a high-level striker in Marc Diakiese, and Fiziev schooled him. Fiziev misplaced his UFC debut final 12 months, however two straight wins since then have him solidly on a path upward. Let’s examine what he can do in opposition to a grappler’s totally different model of stress.
Which flyweight stood out probably the most?
Murphy: How might a flyweight have impressed greater than Figueiredo? Dominating a veteran like Benavidez was spectacular sufficient — that was the primary submission lack of his profession — however the obstacles to even attain Battle Island make Figueiredo’s win one of many tales of the 12 months.
Between quarantines in Sao Paolo, two transcontinental flights and extra quarantine in UAE, Figueiredo was not capable of transfer freely concerning the fighter lodge till the night earlier than weighing in. Rationales for Benavidez successful Saturday’s rematch may very well be written earlier than the battle.
To endure all that, then drop Benavidez inside 45 seconds and supply unrelenting punishment and choke him out chilly was actually beautiful. The previous hairdresser-cowboy-bricklayer is perhaps initially of a protracted title reign.
Usually, arguments may very well be made for Lipski and Askarov. No disrespect to them, each great wins, however there was just one possibility from this occasion.
Raimondi: There’s the reply of Figueiredo after which there are solely flawed solutions after that. Figueiredo is unbelievable and continues to impress along with his energy and ending skill each single time he will get into the cage.
Flyweight is just not a division recognized for knockouts. Demetrious Johnson held the UFC flyweight title for 5 years and had simply two of them. However Figueiredo has three in his final six wins, and has the form of dynamite in his arms to knock down an extremely sturdy fighter like Benavidez thrice in a single spherical. That’s no joke.
Figueiredo now turns into probably the most intriguing champions on the roster, a must-watch each time he will get within the Octagon. And that certain is one thing contemplating flyweight was a division the UFC not too long ago thought of folding up altogether.
Wagenheim: Askar Askarov in all probability earned himself a title shot with an eye-opening efficiency in opposition to a troublesome man ranked above him, and Ariane Lipski’s end was flashy. However this night time belonged to Deiveson Figueiredo. Performances don’t get extra virtuosic than what he delivered in successful the 125-pound belt.
It was going to be troublesome for him to outdo his February knockout win in opposition to Joseph Benavidez, however he did so in an enormous method. He despatched Benavidez to the canvas with an overhand proper hand simply 45 seconds in, and two occasions he almost had him choked out earlier than lastly getting the end at 4:48. Figueiredo made it look simple in opposition to a person who has been second-best within the flyweight division ever since there was a flyweight division. That is spectacular. Good luck getting the belt away from this man.
What was the largest shock of the night time?
Murphy: You might have gotten higher than 6-to-1 odds for Joel Álvarez to submit Joseph Duffy. These are extremely lengthy for somebody who, getting into Saturday, had 14 of 16 wins by way of faucet.
Álvarez’s avenue to victory was clear, however Duffy signified a step up in expertise and boasts jiu-jitsu credentials that ought to have been a street block for the 27-year-old Spaniard.
But Álvarez noticed Duffy’s neck uncovered on a takedown try by the Irishman. Álvarez grabbed his personal reverse wrist to threaten a guillotine. With out even getting Duffy totally into his guard to maximise leverage, Álvarez secured the faucet. Álvarez shrugged his shoulders — virtually shocked — strolling away.
Duffy admitted post-fight in an Instagram submit asserting his retirement, “I believe it is time to understand that I have not received what it takes any extra [sic].”
Duffy evidently anticipated extra from himself. The benefit of Álvarez’s win was sufficient to immediate “Irish Joe” to name it a profession.
Raimondi: When you would have informed me a couple of months in the past that Jack Hermansson would end Kelvin Gastelum with a leg lock in a pivotal middleweight contest on a desert island on the morning time (native time), I might have mentioned you had been having a fever dream. However sure, that’s precisely what simply occurred. Hermansson received Gastelum in a precarious place on the bottom — maybe Gastelum underestimated it — and Hermansson locked within the heel hook, getting the faucet. Leg locks are so uncommon in MMA on the highest degree. Hermansson is a wonderful grappler, however few might have foreseen this outcome. That will probably be on the submission of the 12 months listing when 2020 is over.
Wagenheim: For me, it is a tie between two lookalike outcomes. Within the co-main occasion, Hermansson made fast work of Gastelum, and he did not do it along with his normal excessive output in standup preventing (he got here in with a 2.57 strike differential, highest in UFC middleweight historical past). No, this time Hermansson received the job finished on the canvas and did so in simply 1:18, even after Gastelum reversed his takedown and put him on his again. That modified the way in which I have a look at the Swede.
Likewise, Ariane Lipski put a brand new twist on her “Queen of Violence” nickname by getting her first UFC end not by knockout (she has six of these in her profession), however by submission. Making use of a kneebar that made Luana Carolina scream her verbal submission at 1:28 of Spherical 1 was completely on model for the Lipski nickname.
What was the very best end of the night time?
Ariane Lipski flooring Luana Carolina with a robust proper hand to the intestine, then forces Carolina to faucet out with a savage knee bar.
Murphy: Ariane Lipski arrived within the UFC because the KSW flyweight champion, a hype prepare barreling full-steam forward. I made a daring prediction in a earlier “5 Rounds” she would earn a title shot in opposition to Valentina Shevchenko in 2019.
Losses in Lipski’s first two Octagon appearances derailed any hope of that, however she impressed sufficient in a November resolution win to ink a brand new four-fight contract. Now age 26, Lipski carried out Saturday with the boldness of someone with promotional backing, tapping Luana Carolina to a kneebar in lower than 90 seconds.
Lipski’s mixture of composure and killer intuition stood out. She basically conceded her again to a grounded opponent to go looking for Carolina’s knee. Inside seconds, concern shifted from Lipski leaving herself weak to a heel hook or calf slicer to Carolina screaming in ache from a kneebar and the referee diving in.
“The Queen of Violence” torquing that knee will stay etched in followers’ minds, giving her the momentum to lastly ascend a division in determined want of compelling challengers.
Roman Dolidze lands a punishing kick to the pinnacle of Khadis Ibragimov, knocking him out in Spherical 1.
Raimondi: There was just one knockout or TKO on Saturday night time’s card and it was a doozy. Roman Dolidze, making his UFC debut, starched Khadis Ibragimov with a kick that basically ended up being a knee. Dolidze, a southpaw, went for a swap kick along with his left leg. On the identical time, Ibragimov was leaning in with an assault of his personal. Dolidze’s knee related flush with Ibragimov’s jaw. Proper on the button. Ibragimov was out and Dolidze, a local of the nation of Georgia, earned his first UFC win in completely spectacular trend.
Dolidze, a grappler by commerce with politics as his household’s enterprise, looks as if somebody to keep watch over within the UFC’s gentle heavyweight division.
Wagenheim: Half of the night’s dozen fights led to finishes, and there have been some stunning ones. However I’ve to consider power of competitors and the stakes of the battle, so Figueiredo will get the nod. He was taking up Benavidez, the second-greatest fighter in males’s flyweight historical past, a person who had fought 34 occasions earlier than and never been submitted as soon as. And it took Figueiredo solely 4:48 to choke him out.
Now, the submission was the direct results of a discombobulating knockdown simply 45 seconds into the battle, however he received it finished by way of submission and is a world champion. Bravo to the Brazilian dynamo.
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