Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) will make the first defense of his flyweight title this Saturday. That UFC 255 main event fight will not be against Cody Garbrandt, as had originally been planned. Instead, the Brazilian champion will face Alex Perez, who stepped up to replace the former bantamweight champ.
Still, it’s a big fight — a PPV headliner for the champion of a division that just over a year ago appeared to be on the verge of being cancelled.
Now, Figueiredo is looking to bring back excitement, and a little style, to the weight class.
Decked out in his trademark sunglasses, Figueiredo told Cageside Press Wednesday that “I am the lead singer of the flyweight division. I need to bring the excitement back to this category.” And to do that, he’s planning to win by knockout in each and every fight.
“I’m going to bring all the audience back for the flyweight division,” he proclaimed. “You guys are going to see a great fight.”
They very well may. And for purists, seeing Figueiredo’s first title defense come against a rank and file member of the 125lb division is a relief. The champion himself believes that should be the case, it seems.
“For me, I really think Garbrandt needs to fight somebody in the flyweight division,” he said, asked about Garbrandt being replaced by Perez. A bicep tear on the part of Garbrandt necessitated the change.
While Figueiredo is willing to fight anybody — and that includes Garbrandt, or even Henry Cejudo — the champion added that “It’s good, bringing somebody from [my] weight class, like Alex Perez. It’s the right thing to do.”
Just days out from the fight, the flyweight division was shaken up in another way. Perennial contender Jussier Formiga was released by the UFC. A top 125lb’er, Formiga happens to be the only man to have defeated Figueiredo. And as the champ put it during Wednesday’s media day, “Formiga was the guy who [woke] up the lion.”
After the loss to Formiga, Figueiredo “became more professional,” he stated. The end result, the loss made him “stronger than ever,” Figueiredo finished.
UFC 255 takes place Saturday, November 21 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs live on PPV following online and televised prelims.