Wait a minute, I thought Deiveson Figueiredo just defended his belt. Wasn’t it 21 days ago?
Yes, it was. The madman and current UFC Flyweight champion will have the shortest turnaround between title fights as he will defend the flyweight belt against No. 1 contender Brandon Moreno.
Co-headlining the card is a highly-anticipated lightweight clash between Tony Ferguson and Charles Oliveira.
The main card is loaded with intriguing prospects as grappling specialists Mackenzie Dern and Virna Jandiroba will do battle at women’s strawweight. Kevin Holland will look to complete one of the most successful years of anyone in mixed martial arts as he seeks his fourth win in four months. He will fight longtime vet Ronald “Jacare” Souza. Kicking off the pay-per-view will be a chance for Junior dos Santos to snap a three-fight losing streak as he takes on rising prospect Ciryl Gane.
Let’s get into how I see the night playing out.
UFC Flyweight Championship: (c) Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
“Daico Deus Da Guerra” has been one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC since his entrance in the promotion during the summer of 2017. Outside of a loss to Jussier Formiga, Figgy has nine wins and is currently on a four-fight finish streak. He has a solid, all-around game and can use his thunderous hands or slick submission to beat his opponents. His high pace and acceleration have also been problems for many who fight him.
Moreno has been a great story to follow. He was a fan-favorite on the 2016 version of The Ultimate Fighter and was able to earn a contract in the UFC, despite losing in the second round of TUF’s tournament. While he was cut in his first stint in the UFC, he returned and is 3-0-1 since. His TKO win over Brandon Royval at UFC 255 was enough to earn him a spot to compete for the belt.
This is going to be fun, high-octane duel. Both men have few holes in their game. This is one of those rare fights where we have no reason to root for or against either opponent. You want to see both men do well and have a classic fight. However, Figueiredo is just too polished and I think his talent will overcome any chance of an upset happening tonight.
Prediction: Figueiredo via submission
Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira
After suffering a beatdown at the hands of Justin Gaethje, Ferguson returns and will have a tough matchup against submission specialist, Charles Oliveira. “Do Bronx” has been on a roll. He’s on a seven-fight win streak and all have been by finish.
The biggest question coming in will be the toll Ferguson’s body took against Gaethje. Did the damage do enough to damage his in-Octagon ability? Regardless, this should be a rock-em, sock-em, throwdown and I expect pure violence and a lot of blood to be shed. This is going to be fun.
Prediction: Oliveira by decision
Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba
For all the Brazilian jiu-jitsu purists out there, this fight is for you. Dern seeks her third win of 2020 as she clashes with a highly-talented contender in Jandiroba. Jandiroba took care of business in August as she cleaned out Felice Herrig in under two minutes.
This fight will simply come down to who gets takedowns and gets top control. The one to have control of the groundwork will be the one to win the fight. Advantage: Jandiroba
Prediction: Jandiroba via submission
Kevin Holland vs. Ronaldo Souza
Holland should be a name thrown into the category for Fighter of the Year. He’s been the most active since the summer and won’t stop winning. Since May, he’s won four fights in a row and three have come by finish. A win against Souza immediately shoots him into contention in the middleweight division.
Aside from trying to overcome a stretch of three losses in his last four, there’s no scenario Saturday night where Souza wins, even if he beats Holland. He’s never getting a title shot and is just a gatekeeper to build the future of the division. This should be a cakewalk for Holland in brutal fashion.
Prediction: Holland via KO
Junior dos Santos vs. Ciryl Gane
I question why dos Santos is still fighting. What was once another wind in his career quickly took a downward spiral as he’s been knocked out in his last three fights, and he gets a highly-touted heavyweight in the Frenchman Gane.
While Gane has two wins by submission in the UFC, his power cannot go overlooked, and that’s where I see dos Santos falling. He’ll get to a point of comfort where he thinks he won’t get knocked out. Here lies the problem. Pray for Cigano, y’all.
Prediction: Gane via TKO
Predictions for the rest of the card:
- Pineda via TKO
- Moicano via decision
- Quarantillo via TKO
- Torres via decision
- Hooper via submission
You can watch UFC 256 on ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10:00 p.m. EST. The televised prelims are on ESPN2 beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST. The one early prelim begins on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. EST.