UFC 263: Figueiredo’s Talent To Be Tested by Moreno’s Heart

Brandon Moreno UFC
Brandon Moreno, UFC 263 early weigh-in Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo is looking to reassert his dominance, but Brandon Moreno is taking confidence from pushing him to the limit before as they go into their rematch at UFC 263.

The abilities of Deiveson Figueiredo were on full display in 2020.  After twice dominating perennial contender Joseph Benavidez, the latter of which was an odyssey that earned him Fighter of the Year honors by most outlets, he provided an encore with a quick finish of Alex Perez in November.  The Fight of the Year with Moreno three weeks later?  A bonus of epic proportions for the fans of combat sports (and most everyone else) who endured a year of turmoil.

Look at his record and watch the tape, he is every bit the fighter who is expected to do big things.  He has already been vocal about moving up to bantamweight if given the opportunity, and he has already dispatched several of the top contenders at 125 pounds.  If it seems like “Deus da Guerra” is taking it personal, it’s because he is.  Saturday for him is far more than a rerun of the Fight of the Year, it is about making a statement that he is the man to break the benchmarks set in the lower weight classes.

All of this was once taken away from Brandon Moreno.  “The Assassin Baby” was ranked last on The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions back in 2016 and fell short against Alexandre Pantoja in the first round.  Despite posting a respectable 3-2 mark in the UFC, Moreno was released from the promotion as the company was in the process of phasing out the flyweight division.  Left to operate elsewhere, Moreno continued competing and participated in Combat Jiu-Jitsu as well as winning the LFA flyweight title.

Opportunity would strike in 2019.  The division rose back from the dead and Moreno was given the call to come back to the UFC where he has yet to taste defeat.  After fighting to a draw with top contender Aska Askarov, he went 3-0 with wins over Kai-Kara France, Jussier Formiga, and Brandon Royval.  Last December, his war with Figueiredo was the culmination of the journey.  While the scorecards did not fall in his favor (nor Figueiredo’s, really), his effort was rewarded with an expansion of his fan base and another shot at winning the title.

Going into the rematch, Figueiredo has plenty of reason to be confident.  Even after being deducted a point due to the low blow in round three, none of the judges saw the fight in favor of Moreno.  Figueiredo’s speed and multi-faceted game will pose problems for the challenger as he figures to be able to do more damage both at mid-range and in the pocket.  Moreno’s defense played a large part in his success in the first fight, slipping out of range Figueiredo’s attacks with great movement.  A high volume attack will be crucial as it will keep the champion from settling in to a rhythm.  It will also help him open opportunities for takedowns as his best chance for a finish is with a submission from top position.

Surveying the flyweight division, Askar Askarov looks to be the next title challenger as he is undefeated with victories over Alexandre Pantoja, Joseph Benavidez, and previously fought Moreno to a draw in 2019.  If not Askarov, Pantoja could find himself in the next title fight after defeating former RIZIN champion Manel Kape.  Pantoja has fought both men, losing to Figueiredo in 2019 but defeating Moreno in 2018.