Ahead of UFC Fight Island 2, Deiveson Figueiredo hit one heck of a speed bump. In the form of a positive COVID-19 test just days prior to his departure to Abu Dhabi.
Figueiredo will fight as scheduled, taking on Joseph Benavidez once again in a rematch of their February fight. That bout saw Figueiredo earn a TKO win — but he missed weight for the fight, leaving Henry Cejudo’s old title vacant.
The COVID scare, Figueiredo explained to Cageside Press at the UFC Fight Island 2 virtual media day, went as follows. “Two months ago, I knew that I had the coronavirus. I had been under observation from my doctor, who is also my nutritionist, since then. So I knew there was no way it was still active in my system, considering I had it two months ago.”
Yet when news of the test broke, media reports and fan speculation went into overdrive. Figueiredo, knowing what he did, remained calm. “After that positive test, we were able to redo it, and prove to the UFC that it wasn’t active in my system anymore.”
Of course, a side effect of the delay was that Figueiredo didn’t travel to Abu Dhabi until well after the rest of the fighters on the card, including opponent Joseph Benavidez. Travel can sometimes complicate weight cutting, but the Brazilian hit championship weight Friday morning.
After his win at UFC Norfolk last February, Figueiredo (through manager Walid Ismail) had been dubbed the “champion without the belt.” That’s how the flyweight standout still feels heading into the rematch.
“For sure. I did win the fight. Unfortunately I couldn’t get out of the octagon with the belt. But it’s going to be different this time,” Figueiredo replied. While the weight cut would be better, he predicted, “the win is going to be the same.”
If that turns out to be the case, it would be quite the feat. Benavidez has just six losses on his record, and of those losses, two UFC legends account for four of them. Both Dominick Cruz and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson have defeated the veteran fighter twice. Sergio Pettis and Figueiredo himself both hold one win a piece over “Joe B.” So “Daico” would be in fine company if he pulls off a win again.
He’d also be the undisputed UFC flyweight champion. No longer without the belt.
Watch the full UFC Fight Island 2 virtual media day press scrum with Deiveson Figueiredo above.