Welcome to what very well could be a flyweight title eliminator for UFC gold. Jussier Formiga likely has the best claim to an opportunity at the belt at 125lbs, although Brandon Moreno will look to jump the line at UFC Brasilia on Saturday night.
Of course, the promotion is likely to run back Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez first. But the Fight Night card in Brasilia, suddenly higher profile with a slot on ESPN, was a chance for either athlete to make a statement.
On a night with zero finishes all the way to this, the featured prelim, it felt as if big things could be coming. Moreno touched his opponent early with a punch, but there wasn’t a ton behind it. Formiga then had to contend with Moreno charging in; Jussier jumped into guard as he did. The Brazilian had a guillotine in, but Moreno slipped out, which put him in guard. An exciting scrambled ensured, with submission attempts including an arm-bar and omoplata, albeit short lived. And an upkick. Moreno wound up back on top but had to be wary of the arm-bar. Formiga then transitioned to top, but while he wasn’t super-active, it was a little surprising to see the fight stood up. Only twenty or so seconds remained in the round, but that was enough time for Moreno to connect with a few strikes.
Starting the second round by immediately moving into a clinch, Moreno and Formiga stayed active. Formiga appeared to have a bit of damage over one eye. Moreno feigned a takedown, then moved in throwing. An eye poke halted the action, however, as Formiga’s thumb hit Moreno’s eye. After a brief stoppage, they went back to it, going to the ground with another exciting scramble ensuing. Moreno broke free, then put Formiga on his back with emphasis. The Mexican moved to half-guard, but couldn’t maintain that long, soon finding himself back in guard. They moved back up, with Formiga eating a kick in the process. That led to Formiga transitioning to his opponent’s back, working to get one hook in, and landing knees to the thigh.
TABLES TURNED! 🔄
— UFC (@ufc) March 14, 2020
Round three saw the pair stay standing early, with perhaps a slightly slower pace. Moreno had his hands going, and was able to shrug off a takedown attempt in the first half of the frame. Formiga fired a spin kick that sailed wide; they moved to center as the midway mark of the round approached. Formiga would shoot again just ahead of the final minute. But while Moreno would fight that off, the Brazilian took the back and dragged Moreno down. He’d then transition to top, and finish the fight there.
While there was no finish after all, the end result was a strong showing by both men. An emotional Moreno, screaming in triumph, got the nod.
Official Result: Brandon Moreno def. Jussier Formiga by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)