UFC president Dana White nearly killed the flyweight division after former champ Demetrious Johnson departed from the promotion in 2018. After Saturday night, and for all of 2020, the flyweight division proved its worth and it is one of the most exciting divisions in the UFC.
Saturday night at the UFC Apex, champion Deiveson Figueiredo defended his title for the second time in 21 days against No. 1 contender Brandon Moreno. Coming into the fight, it was expected to be a fun one as both 125-pound fighters were evenly matched and had well-rounded games.
Not only did the fight live up to expectations, it exceeded them and became one of the best fights of 2020 and the greatest fight in flyweight history.
Back-and-forth the two men went as Figueiredo landed power shots and Moreno landed in volume.
The story of the fight came in the third round as Figueiredo landed a kick to the groin area of Moreno, forcing the fight to be paused. Moreno was on the ground in a heap of pain and was nearly to the point of puking as he was coughing and dry-heaving. However, it only took two minutes in the five-minute break that Moreno stood back up on his feet and continued fighting.
Once again, the two went back-and-forth, which led to one of the great rounds in UFC history with a wild fourth round.
In the fifth and final round, Figueiredo threw a kick that hit Moreno’s left arm, causing issues that slowed Moreno’s output entirely. Figueiredo went on to win that around and retain the belt in a majority draw.
The two set a record for significant strikes as they combined for 269 in the fight.
Charles Oliveira def. Tony Ferguson
In a fight that was expected to be total chaos, Oliveira ended up dominating Ferguson to earn his eighth-straight victory. The highlight of the fight came at the end of the first round as Oliveira had an armbar fully sunk in on Ferguson to the point where Oliveira bent down Ferguson’s arm and nearly broke it. Ferguson did not tap.
Oliveira now inserts himself into the lightweight title picture among a stacked lists of contenders.
Mackenzie Dern def. Virna Jandiroba
A battle of Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialists was one that played out entirely on the feet, and it was a war. Dern proved to have the better hands and landed a handful of significant strikes to take the win in the hard-fought, three-round battle.
Kevin Holland def. Jacare Souza
Talk about a fight that went from zero to 100 real quick. These two men were laughing and dancing in the Octagon moments before the beginning. Toward the halfway point of the first round, Souza had Holland on his back and the two began talking and smiling. As Souza was about to get up, Holland threw a right hand off his back that landed flush on Souza’s chin. Souza was stunned and Holland got up and closed the fight with brutal right hands to take the win.
Holland has now won four fights in the last five months and has earned a nice break from the Octagon.
Ciryl Gane def. Junior dos Santos
With how great this card was top-to-bottom, this heavyweight pay-per-view opener will be forgotten about, but it shouldn’t as Gane continues to be a rising contender and make his way up to contention. His size, physique, and athleticism should have the top heavyweights on noticed as he ended dos Santos in the first round with a nasty elbow to the area behind the ear.
There were other great performances in the prelims as Cub Swanson returned to form with a knockout victory over Daniel Pineda. Rafael Fiziev made noise in the lightweight division with a brutal first-round knockout of Renato Moicano. In the first fight of the night, 21-year-old Chase Hooper submitted Peter Barrett with a slick heel hook with a defeated leg.
Overall, UFC 256 delivered on all fronts and was one of the best cards of the year.
Next up, the year for the UFC ends Dec. 19 in a stacked card headlined by welterweights Stephen Thompson and Geoff Neal.