Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno had already shown incredible heart by agreeing to headline UFC 256 less than one month after both men picked up wins at UFC 255. What played out in the ring took the display of heart, guts and determination to another level as the pair battled to a majority draw in a battle for Figueiredo’s flyweight championship. With the result, Figueiredo remains champion.
The fight not only earned a spot in the conversation for best fight of the year, but also earned praise from UFC president Dana White as the greatest fight in the history of the flyweight division. It was also a record setting one, with the two combining for an all-time high for strikes landed in a flyweight fight at 269.
From the opening round, Moreno and Figueiredo exchanged wild power strikes with neither man backing down despite being rocked repeatedly. Ultimately, an accidental low blow by Figueiredo in the third round was the deciding strike in the fight, with the foul resulting in a point deduction that directly led to the draw on two of the three official scorecards. The low blow came after what appeared to be multiple eye pokes by the champion, one of which was caught by the referee and resulted in a break in the action for Moreno to recover.
“The referee did his job, you know,” Figueiredo said after the fight. “I threw an eye poke on accident and I threw the low kick on accident. He did his job. It’s not my place to say that, but I was able to go in there and put on a good fight. My fans are used to seeing me go out there and get a knockout in the first round, but I fought all five rounds and I think it was a good performance.”
Every time one fighter would land one — or more — strikes with potentially fight-changing impact, the other would come blazing back with their own savage flurry. While the performance of both men was already impressive, Figueiredo claimed he was also dealing with a medical issue the night before the fight.
“I felt like a champion there,” Figueiredo said. “I felt like a champion every single round. I had something happen to me yesterday, I had an infection in my stomach and was in the hospital until 2 a.m. and I didn’t know how I was going to be able to perform. Hopefully, I did a good job. I came in here and put my blood, sweat and tears into this.”
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Down the stretch, Moreno was seemingly taking over the fight when his output dropped significantly in the final round. While it appeared the decline in action was due to an arm injury from blocking Figueiredo kicks, Moreno said it was actually an issue with his shoulder that occurred because he had throw so many hard jabs through the fight.
After the five rounds of action drew to a close, the official scores were 48-46, 47-47 and 47-47. With no clear winner and a fight any true MMA fan would be excited to see again, a rematch would only seem to make sense.
“We need a rematch,” Moreno said after the fight. “We need that rematch. For me, for Figueiredo, for the fans, for everybody.”
The champion was also not put off by the idea of running back this instant classic, so long as he has a bit of time to recover and prepare this time around.
“If they want to put him in front of me for the next fight, I’m open to that,” Figueiredo said. “I want to tell Dana and everyone that I’m always open to anything. I made weight in 20 days, I was able to come back here. Maybe with a full training camp, I’ll be able to neutralize his game. But I need to go back and spend some time with my family and relax for a little bit.”
The draw was the first such result in a UFC title fight since November 2016, when then-welterweight champ Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson battled to a draw in their first meeting at UFC 205.
While a draw is never a completely satisfying result, the challenger remained upbeat despite not walking out of the Octagon with the belt.
“I’m enjoying this moment too much,” Moreno said. “I feel so happy. I know I wanted the belt, but it is what it is. I want to go be with my family and with my children.”
Moreno is still unbeaten in the cage since losing a decision to Alexandre Pantoja in May 2018. The Mexican fighter is 4-0-2 since with fights against the best the division has to offer in Figueiredo, Jussier Formiga, Kai Kara-France and Askar Askarov.
“I feel so proud. I respect all my people in my country, all my fans enjoyed this fight just like me,” Moreno said. “This fight is bigger than just me, it’s for my parents, for my family, for my kids, for my people in Mexico, for my people in Latin America, for my fans in general.”