After three fights and over an hour of octagon time spent together, UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and interim champ Brandon Moreno faced off in the UFC 283 co-main event on Saturday.
The Rio-based card marked the promotion’s first trip to Brazil in nearly three years, and fans would no doubt be in Figueiredo’s corner. With their career series tied at 1-1-1, however, it truly did feel like anyone’s fight.
There was no glove touch to start Figueiredo vs. Moreno 4. Instead, the pair met at center, before Moreno opted to circle outside. When they closed the distance, it was Moreno who landed a takedown, which Figueiredo defended with a guillotine, despite no real hope of pulling it off. What Figueiredo did manage to do was buy some time, as Moreno’s progress was effectively stalled. When he pulled free, Figueiredo powered his way out back to his feet.
From there, Moreno launched a leg kick that connected. A bit of a chess match ensued, as the pair felt each other out and traded single strikes. Both men landed, though neither seriously hurt the other. Figueiredo did trail a combo with a heavy leg kick approaching the final minute of the round. Moreno ripped the body moments later. They went to the ground before the buzzer, with Figueiredo locking up a heel hook, but Moreno escaped the round.
At round’s end, Moreno complained to the officials that Figueiredo had landed an illegal kick while they were on the mat. It appeared that the kick was indeed illegal, but it was never called.
In the second, Figueiredo turned the tables early, securing a takedown of his own. He went to work while Moreno kept his guard high before scrambling out. Just over a minute had passed in the round. Figueiredo ducked a Moreno right hand. The pair were trading a little more frequently now. Moreno fired a low kick. Then a right hand. Figueiredo went to the body. Moreno landed a jab; the Brazilian went to the body again. When the champ threw a kick up high, Moreno dumped him. Figueiredo popped up, but a scramble saw him lock up a guillotine! It looked tight, but Moreno fought the hands. After a moment, Figueiredo was forced to release the choke.
That left Moreno inside Figueiredo’s guard, with 90 seconds to work. Moreno opted to basically rub his head against Figueiredo’s to add to his discomfort, though he didn’t do much in the way of actual damage. Still, he finished the round on top, sneaking in an elbow.
The third round saw the tide shift even further in favor of Moreno. About 90 seconds in, a punch clipped Figueiredo by the eye. Trailing that punch, which appeared to hurt Figueiredo, was a scrape to the eye that brought immediate protest from the champ. Which blow had done more damage, the clean punch or the foul, was a question. Either way, Figueiredo wound up on the ground, bloodied, with Moreno on top.
Despite the adversity, Figueiredo survived the round. But with Moreno closing out the frame on top, it was a bad look for the Brazilian champ. The crowd was not thrilled, and let their voice be heard between rounds. The cut that had opened up under Figueiredo’s right eye was also cause for concern.
Serious concern. After taking a closer look prior to the start of the third, the doctor waved off the fight. While Moreno was already ahead, it wasn’t going to be a satisfactory ending for fans. The doctor’s stoppage ended the night early, with Moreno claiming the unified UFC flyweight championship.
Figueiredo, meanwhile, signalled that he was ready to move to bantamweight.
Official Result: Brandon Moreno def. Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO (doctor’s stoppage), Round 3, 5:00