UFC 283: Historic Fourth Meeting to Bring Resolution Between Figueiredo and Moreno

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Opponents Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil and Brandon Moreno of Mexico face off during the UFC 283 weigh-in at Jeunesse Arena on January 20, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

For the first time in UFC history, the promotion will see fighters compete against one another for the fourth time as flyweight stars Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno compete for undisputed gold and bragging rights at UFC 283.

While combat sports is no stranger to trilogies, a fourth fight between rivals is a far more rare occurrence.  Since late 2020, Deiveson Figuieredo and Brandon Moreno have gone back and forth in competitive bouts that have reinvigorated the flyweight division.  Once on the proverbial chopping block, the resurgence in interest for the weight class behind the two stars has provided opportunities not just for the men involved but also the contenders coming up behind them.  That said, the star power of both Figueiredo and Moreno led to the UFC booking the first tetralogy in the promotion’s history as opposed to pursuing a fresh opponent for the undisputed title.

Deiveson Figueiredo enters the quartet as the reigning champion who held his own in two bouts with his familiar foe.  The Brazilian breakout star claimed gold in 2020 with a dominant stoppage of long-time veteran Joseph Benavidez and defended the title in short order against Alex Perez later that year.  Most may forget that Figueiredo won that bout with Perez so quickly that the UFC called upon him to defend his title roughly a month later to headline a second straight pay-per-view after the previously planned bouts were scrapped.

After a dominant 20-1 run leading into the bout, “Deus de Guerra” was the heavy favorite going into the bout.  The two turned in an exciting five round contest, but several accidental fouls led to a point deduction and eventually a draw on the scorecards.  Notably, Figueiredo would have won the bout had he not lost the point.  He was favored once again in the rematch several months later, but fell short against a dazzling performance from Moreno.  The third bout saw Figueiredo change camps and work with the duo of former two-division champion Henry Cejudo and his head coach Eric Albarracin.  The work paid off as Figueiredo turned in arguably the best performance of the series with a five round decision over Moreno to reclaim the title.

Brandon Moreno’s rise to UFC stardom was the feel good story of 2021.  A solid grappler who grew into a bonafide contender, “The Assassin Baby” was unceremoniously cut from the promotion in 2018 when the UFC was phasing out their men’s flyweight division.  For a time, it seemed that then flyweight champion Henry Cejudo would be moving up to bantamweight and the former flyweights of the UFC would simply be relegated into MMA obscurity; they would be the forgotten victims of a weight class that the promotion said the public did not have enough interest in to keep around.

But the MMA universe had other plans.  The division remained and Moreno was brought back into the fold where he then strung together four more victories to set up his title bout with Figueiredo less than a month after his last fight.  While he impressed in the first fight, it was his performance in the rematch that elevated him to MMA stardom.  He turned in a brilliant display that saw him outwork the champion across the distance before getting a finish.  The victory was not only a culmination of personal perseverance in the sport for Moreno, but also a groundbreaking victory for Mexico to have their first athlete born in the country win a UFC championship.  The support was on full display in the trilogy where Moreno was the crowd favorite despite coming up short on the scorecards against Figueiredo.  He was also part of the draw again months later as he rallied back to defeat Kai Kara-France to set up the fourth meeting with his rival in Brazil.

After a series of dynamic bouts, the fourth could provide any number of scenarios considering the sheer amount of information the two have to draw from after nearly an hour in the Octagon together.  Entering the bout, once again the explosive power advantage goes to Figueiredo.  He proved in the last fight that he could manage his energy across 25 minutes, and the crowd is expected to push him if the fight goes into deep waters once again.  The one with the biggest adjustments to make is Moreno who will need to find an answer as he struggled to slow down the champion in the last meeting with his counter-striking.  Finally, the x-factor of the impact of Moreno being unable to train with coach James Krause for this critical meeting could come into play.

Currently, surging contender Alexandre Pantoja is expected to be the front-runner for the next title shot behind his current win streak and the fact that has history with both men as he defeated Moreno twice (once in the UFC and once on The Ultimate Fighter) and lost to Figueiredo.  If Pantoja is unavailable, then former RIZIN title holder Manel Kape stands out as a potential option as he is on a three fight win streak of his own and is looking to break into the conversation.

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