UFC 263 - Figueiredo vs Moreno II - Analysis & Prediction - 6/12/21
Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno
Deiverson Figueiredo (20-1-1) returns to the cage to defend his flyweight belt. The Brazillian faced Joseph Benavidez for the vacant strap in February of last year. Despite TKO’ing his opponent, he had to run it back and finish Benavidez a second time because he didn’t make weight on the first go. He successfully defended his belt against Alex Perez via guillotine choke. The champ then had a short turn around when he agreed to face Brandon Moreno 21 days later in order to save a ppv ravaged by cancellations. That ended up being a fight of the night affair which ended in a draw. Luckily for us fans, they are doing it all over again. Let’s look at the challenger.
Brandon “The Assassin Baby” Moreno (18-5-2) actually had two stints in the UFC. He made his debut back in 2016 where he won his first three fights before losing his next two. The UFC cut him loose so the Mexican picked up a win in LFA before getting re-signed with the UFC again. After a draw with Askar Askarov, Moreno went on to defeat Kai Kara France, Jussier Formiga, and Brandon Royval. This set up the first fight with Figueiredo.
Moreno will have 2 inches in height and reach over the champion.
How They Match Up
As mentioned, these flyweights are running it back in a rematch so we have great insight on how they match up. Statistically, the first fight was incredibly close. 137-132 significant strikes landed over 25 minutes, 4-2 in takedowns, a draw as the final verdict, etc. But these numbers don’t really tell the entire story. About half of media outlets scored the fight in favor of the champion, while the other half did in fact have it as a draw. No one had it in favor of Moreno. So if Figueiredo doesn’t land that low blow in the third round, he walks away with the unanimous decision for a comfortable 3 rounds to 2 any way you slice it.
Stylistically they match up in a way that guarantees excitement. Figueiredo is the scariest flyweight ever. He’ll march forward with his hands low and whip power shots. He will periodically switch stances to land hard body kicks, and he has the grappling prowess to hold his own against anyone in the division. If he does get taken down, he’s quite good at landing elbows from the bottom and doing legit damage before getting things back to the feet. He hits incredibly hard and has fantastic finishing prowess for a flyweight (9 KOs and 8 submission victories out of 20 wins).
Moreno keeps his arms tucked and looks to counter but he isn’t afraid to take initiative and launch into combinations periodically. He had success with the latter against Figueiredo the last time, especially when finishing his combination with a high kick. “The Assassin Baby” also has fantastic body lock trips which he punished Figueiredo with every time the champion got too cute and threw some lazy step-in elbows.
Just like the main event, both guys are incredibly durable, neither being finished in their pro careers (TUF not included).
If Moreno is going to take the belt away, he’s going to need to get busier earlier in every round with a grapple heavy approach. This will do two things - A) He will get to capitalize on his cardio edge for the second half of every round and B) Will help drain Figueiredo’s stamina which will make it less likely he eats as many power shots throughout the fight. A finish isn’t totally out of the question for Moreno if he puts this strategy into place either. Figueiredo cuts a lot of weight and we saw a few flush head kicks wobble him in the last fight.
Ultimately I don’t see any of that happening. That’s a pretty complicated strategy for the challenger and honestly, if he didn’t get it done the last time against a guy who was in the hospital the day before the fight (2 weight cuts in 21 days tend to have an effect), it is unlikely to happen here. The other part of this equation here is if all things end up being equal and the fight is close, we will still have a fighter taking the center of the cage full time, marching down a fighter content to stay on the outside near the cage. This isn’t a good look at the best of times, but when that fighter in the center is the champion, tough sell for the judges to strip the belt.