Figueiredo Retains Title, Moreno Battles Champ to Draw in Instant Classic
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, December 13, 2020
In an epic championship fight, Deiveson Figueiredo successfully defended his flyweight title, as he and challenger Brandon Moreno fought to a draw in the headline event at UFC256 in Las Vegas Saturday night. The fight was instantly dubbed the best fight in the history of the division with fans already clamouring for a rematch.
Moreno served notice early that the champion had a fight on his hands, fighting gamely in the opening round. Figueiredo’s power began to take a toll towards the end of the frame, likely giving him the advantage over the first five minutes.
Figueiredo continued to stalk Moreno in the second round, getting the best of some early exchanges. Moreno managed to take the champion down midway through the round and landed some significant strikes of his own. The round was close but Moreno appeared to have the edge.
Figueiredo landed several heavy blows in round three but Moreno continued to battle, refusing to give an inch. With under two minutes left in the round Figueiredo caught Moreno with a resounding kick below the belt that sent Moreno to the canvas writhing in pain. Referee Jason Herzog deducted a point from Figueiredo, leaving the outcome of the round very much in doubt.
Moreno came out strong in round four, and had the champion in trouble, Figueiredo wobbling after eating a flurry of punches. Figueiredo recovered to do some damage of his own but the round was clearly Moreno’s. With the fight too close to call round five came with one of the biggest upsets in UFC hanging in the balance.
In the final round it appeared that Moreno had suffered an arm injury , and was unable to use his left with any degree of frequency or power. Figueiredo, displaying the heart of a champion, fought off a takedown attempt by Moreno and ended the fight landing some heavy strikes. Two judges scored the fight a draw while the other gave Figueiredo the edge, the majority draw resulting in Figueiredo retaining his flyweight title.
After the fight, Moreno admitted he had suffered a shoulder injury, while Figueiredo revealed he had been hospitalized the previous night with a stomach virus. The two fought courageously throughout, particularly given that both had fought just twenty days earlier. The rematch should it happen, promises to be one of the highlights of 2021.
UFC 256 offered plenty of excitement. In a highly anticipated light heavyweight tilt, Charles Oliveira dominated Tony Ferguson, earning a unanimous decision in the co-main event.
It was Ferguson’s first bout after taking a savage five round beating from Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 last May and the result leaves the veteran’s future in doubt. Ferguson barely survived the opening round, Oliveira securing a disturbing arm bar and it was only the horn ending the round that saved Ferguson from an early exit. Oliveira continued to dominate in the second frame, taking Ferguson to the mat again and landing some significant ground and pound. Needing a finish in the final stanza, Ferguson was again slammed to deck by Oliveira, who simply would not give up control. The impressive victory leaves Oliveira well-positioned for a lightweight title shot in the new year.
In other action from the stacked main card, middleweight Kevin Holland scored a stunning first round knockout victory over veteran Jacare Souza. From his back, Holland stunned Souza with an elbow to the forehead and followed with a vicious right hook that caused Souza to fall back, propped against the fence. Scrambling to his feet, Holland landed a couple of vicious blows to finish the job. The win was Holland’s fifth of 2020, boosting his record to 21-5.
In a spirited women’s strawweight scrap, MacKenzie Dern earned a unanimous decision win over Virna Jandiroba. The fighters split the first two rounds, but Dern found an extra gear in round three, fighting gamely through an obviously broken nose to capture the deciding round and the decision.
Heavyweight Cyril Gane remained undefeated in the UFC with a second round tko win over veteran Junior dos Santos. After a closely fought opening round, Gane hurt Dos Santos with a jab midway through the second and followed with a vicious elbow that caught Dos Santos behind the left ear, driving him to his knees. Gane followed with some heavy blows and dos Santos, obviously hurt forced referee Mark Smith to jump in and call an end to the fight.
Halifax, Nova Scotia native Gavin Tucker fought on the undercard and improved his record to 13-1 with an impressive unanimous decision victory over Billy Quarantillo in a high-paced flyweight bout. Tucker enjoyed a 90-69 advantage in significant strikes after two rounds and held a decided edge in the final frame to leave no doubt as to the outcome.
The UFC returns to the Apex next Saturday with a Fight Night event, the headliner a welterweight clash between Stephen “Wonder Boy” Thompson and Geoff Neal.