While the future of the UFC flyweight division is less than clear, we do know that Jussier Formiga and Deiveson Figueiredo are fighting for the next shot at Henry Cejudo’s title at UFC Nashville.
That is, should the division exist long enough for such a bout to take place. The current flyweight champion seems distracted with hopes for a bantamweight title. We don’t know what the promotion plans on doing with the now vacant bantamweight title. But, we do know that after UFC Nashville, a fresh number-one contender will be waiting for whoever holds the 125-pound title.
The matchup pits the #1 ranked Formiga against the fourth-ranked Figueiredo, according to the official UFC fighter rankings.
The second-ranked Joseph Benavidez was reportedly slated to fight Formiga at UFC Brooklyn in January. Benavidez, the flyweight title fight alternate for Dillashaw-Cejudo, was instead paired with Dustin Ortiz. Benavidez defeated Ortiz via unanimous decision, and signed a four-fight contract ahead of the bout, giving him back-to-back victories following his loss to (now bantamweight) Sergio Pettis at UFC 225 last June.
The other fighter in the picture, third-ranked Ray Borg, is headed to bantamweight. The former title challenger is making his 135-pound debut against promotional newcomer Kyler Phillips at UFC Philadelphia on March 30.
Given their recent runs, and the state of the rest of the flyweight title picture, Formiga and Figueiredo are fighting for the number-one contender spot. Right now, that might not be enough to secure a title shot. Needing things with Cejudo and 135 to die down, and the division to stick around, are both factors at play, regardless of who wins at UFC Nashville.
We’re hoping things go back to “normal” and Cejudo turns his attention to the winner of Formiga-Figueiredo sooner rather than later. Both guys are more than deserving of a shot at the belt, and sound like compelling matchups for the champ.
Formiga, the 33-year-old, 27-fight veteran has been in the UFC since 2012. He’s won his last three bouts, with his most recent victory coming against Sergio Pettis at UFC 229 last October. The Brazilian’s last loss came to Borg in March of 2017. Along with Borg, Formiga’s other career losses have been to Cejudo, Benavidez, John Dodson, and Ian McCall.
Consistently fighting the best of the best, while always falling just short of a title shot, has been the book on Formiga throughout his UFC career. With the future of the division in doubt, and time potentially running out, you’d be hard pressed to find a better story to tell than that of Formiga finally getting his chance at winning gold.
The only thing standing in Formiga’s way is Deiveson Figueiredo. The 31-year-old is undefeated at 15-0, and has gone 4-0 since joining the UFC in 2017. Three of those four wins have come via second-round TKO. His most recent victory came in August of 2018, when he finished John Moraga at UFC Lincoln.
Both Formiga and Figueiredo have better resumés of late than Benavidez, the only other legitimate option for Cejudo at flyweight. Selling the hard-fought journey for Formiga, or the undefeated run of Figueiredo, in a title fight is easy enough. Yeah, Benavidez has an interesting story, and a past with Cejudo. But he’s had his shot(s) at the title. It’s time for one of these fresh faces to get their time in the title fight spotlight.
Let us know what you think about the bout between Jussier Formiga and Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC Nashville! Should the winner be headed toward a title-shot? Comment below, on Facebook, or reply on Twitter!