UFC 270: A Final Chapter for Moreno and Figueiredo in Anaheim

Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo, UFC 270
Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo, UFC 270 weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo will try to write the final chapter of their rivalry as they complete their trilogy this Saturday at UFC 270.

Who could blame Brandon Moreno for enjoying the fruits of his labor these past few months?  Once cut from the UFC as the promotion planned to do away with the flyweight division, “The Assassin Baby” was amongst the feel good stories of 2021 as his second run in the company culminated in a world title last May.  He’s since enjoyed the perks of being champion such as meeting the President of Mexico, accepting three trophies at the World MMA Awards, and finally getting an official trophy to recognize him as the “Lego Champion” of the UFC.

After dominating his Brazilian rival to win the belt, the question now revolves on whether the Moreno we will see in 2022 will be the same dialed in athlete that we saw months ago.  The draw against Figueiredo on short notice in 2020 aside, Moreno has hit his stride in recent years with wins over perennial contender Kai Kara-France, Brandon Royval, and Jussier Formiga.  Should the same fighter be in the cage on Saturday, then it will take a monumental effort to wrest the belt from him.

Deiveson Figueiredo returns with the expectation that new faces in his corner will not only bring a return to form, but they will overhaul his game entirely.  Leading up to the first bout with Moreno, “Deus de Guerra” had posted an impressive 20-1 record and was regarded as Fighter of the Year by the UFC and many publications in 2020.  It should also be noted, though his first bout with Moreno was ruled a draw, the scorecards were all on track to have Figueiredo winning by decision had he not lost a point due to accidental fouls during the bout.

Following victories over the likes of Alex Perez, Alexandre Pantoja, and Joseph Benavidez, Figueiredo looked all the part of the next big thing in MMA.  After losing the title in one-sided fashion in the second Moreno fight, he joined forces with former two-division champion Henry Cejudo, who recently has helped strawweight champion Zhang Weili and pound-for-pound kingpin Jon Jones at Fight Ready in Arizona.  Considering the bout was pushed back a little over a month, the possible improvements he’s made with the extra month to work with Cejudo are the questions going into the bout.

For Figueiredo, movement and effective counter striking will be the key to dictating the pace.  The former champion is known for having a massive cut to flyweight and conserving his energy will be important across the 25 minute bout.  The more explosive striker, using a multifaceted attack that keeps Moreno from settling in will be key.  For Moreno, forcing Figueiredo to fight off his heels will be his best route to victory as it prevents the challenger from sitting down on his more powerful strikes.  Getting the fight to the mat is also expected to be part of Moreno’s game plan as many figure he holds an advantage on the ground.

The UFC’s flyweight division has arguably never been in a better space as top contenders such as Pantoja, Kara-France, Askar Askarov, and Manel Kape are all performing well and are on the cusp of title contention.  Depending on who walks out with the belt on Saturday, and their timetable to return, the next title challenger could be any one of the aforementioned challengers in the second half of 2022.