Norfolk, VA — The end of UFC Norfolk might have been the worst possible outcome for the UFC, and the flyweight division.
Deiveson Figueiredo, who missed weight for the fight and was ineligible to win the promotion’s 125lb title, landed a crushing blow that put opponent Benavidez on the ground early in the second round of the five-round affair. A follow-up strike put Joe completely out.
Figueiredo had the win. But little else. No belt, and a big question mark hovering over the division. It didn’t dampen his spirits any following the win, however, as he told reporters including Cageside Press.
“No, I’m not sad at all. I’m very happy. I come here to give a good show for the people,” Figueiredo said, with Walid Ismail translating for him. “Because if you guys remember, I told everybody before the fight, I’m going to knock [him] out in the second round. I don’t get the weight I’m supposed to get, but I promised everybody, I did a big show, I’m going to knock out, I’m going to give a big show for everybody. This is what I did, and I’m very happy.”
Figueiredo was adamant that he needed the big finish, because he “owed this for the people who come to the arena. Because I not make the weight, I have to put on a big show for the people.” He also put to rest, at least in his opinion, the idea that a clash of heads helped set up the finish. “People cannot forget, at first I opened his face with my elbow. Then the clash of the head, but what knocked out Benavidez was my punch, not the head butt. The people cannot— it was the punch.” There was no chance the headbutt played a role, he added.
As for this weight cut, the Brazilian said everything was fine until the day of the weigh-in. Then, he was hit by cramps in his stomach. His nutritionist said it was “better to stop” his weight cut as a result. The cramps are not something he had experienced before, Figueiredo told Cageside Press.
“I just won my belt. The belt is mine. I proved it,” Figueiredo would say later. It was a theme that was returned to several times on the night. “The champion without the belt” is how he put it at points. As he put it, he “beat the best guy in the category, and [I’m] the champion without the belt.”
What comes next is a big question. Figueiredo doesn’t seem to care who he fights. Though he is interested in fighting in Brazil.
At the suggestion flyweight could be done after the closest thing it has to a champ missed weight, it was Ismail speaking out. “How can you banish a great category [weight class] like that? People need to understand, this is my words, not his words. If you take out this category, then MMA is going to walk back, like back in the day. We cannot walk back. We need to walk forward, with more categories, not taking out categories.”
Watch the full UFC Norfolk post-fight press scrum with Deiveson Figueiredo above!