Two title fights headlined the UFC 255 pay-per-view card. At the end of the night, the two fighters who walked into the UFC Apex in Las Vegas carrying flyweight titles, were the same competitors who walked out with them.
In the main event, flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, scored his third straight first-round finish when he stopped Alex Perez via submission. The win was his first defense of the vacant title he captured in July when he stopped Joseph Benavidez via technical submission late in the first round.
In the co-main event, the reigning women’s flyweight title holder, Valentina Shevchenko kept her UFC 125-pound record perfect with a decision win over Jennifer Maia. Shevchenko is now 6-0 at women’s flyweight in the UFC. Four of those wins have been title defenses.
Read on for the winners and losers from UFC 255.
Deiveson Figueiredo: The way the UFC was building up Figueiredo before he faced Alex Perez you would have thought he was a mix of prime Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Khabib Nurmagomedov. The promotion might have gone a little overboard in pumping the tires of the flyweight champ.
After seeing his slick submission win over Perez, don’t expect the UFC hype machine to slow for Figueiredo, who has seven finishes in nine UFC victories. Saturday’s win over Perez was Figueiredo’s first defense of the 125-pound title.
As we know, winning the title is easier than keeping the title. Now that he is the fighter with the target on his back, we should get a better idea as to just how good Figueiredo is. The champion might not live up to how much the UFC is pushing him, but he might. Either way, it seems as if it will be fun to watch Figueiredo compete.
Valentina Shevchenko: It appears the women’s flyweight champion has reached the point in her reign that it’s a big deal when she loses a round. The UFC commentary team, especially Joe Rogan, seemed to focus more on any success Jennifer Maia had during the five-round fight, than how Shevchenko landed 249 total strikes, five out of six takedowns and ran up 9:34 of control time.
Thanks to her dominance in her previous fights, the champion has fans — and commentators — expecting her to be flawless throughout 25 minutes. That seems like an impossibly high bar to maintain. It also seems a little unfair, but I guess that’s the price Shevchenko has to pay for being so good at what she does.
Tim Means: Means used effective jabs to bloody the face of Mike Perry on his way to a decision win. Means, who didn’t seem to appreciate that Perry missed weight, appreciated the extra funds he got from Perry for coming in heavy on weigh-in day. Means doubled Perry in significant strikes, landing 128 to Perry’s 64.
Katlyn Chookagian: A little more than a month after Jessica Andrade stopped her in the first round, Chookagian defeated Cynthia Calvillo via decision. Chookagian used her length to keep Calvillo at bay. When Calvillo attempted a takedown, Chookagian had the time and space to sprawl and avoid being put in a dangerous position. Chookagian’s game plan was excellent for this contest.
Paul Craig: In a rematch that no one really called for, Paul Craig outworked former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua. Craig should move up at least one spot in the rankings for his win over Rua, but I’m not sure what else this win does for him.
Brandon Moreno: Moreno did not take it well when the UFC passed him over for a title shot in favor of Cody Garbrandt, a man who had never competed at flyweight. Moreno, eager to prove that he was deserving of a shot at the winner of the main event of UFC 255, was aggressive in his pursuit of a win over Brandon Royval.
Moreno showed good striking and aggressive ground work on his way to a TKO win over Royval.
Moreno deserves a title shot. The UFC needs to give it to him.
Joaquin Buckley: Buckley was coming off what might have been the biggest viral knockout in UFC history entering his matchup against Jordan Wright. That knockout, a spinning back kick to the head of Impa Kasanganay, has been the talk of the MMA world since it took place in early October. So, of course Buckley felt some pressure to deliver on Saturday.
That pressure seemed to get to Buckley a bit in the early going as he looked as if he was throwing every strike hoping it would connect and end the fight in spectacular style. When Buckley slowed down a bit and focused he was able to add to his developing highlight reel with another knockout.
After the win, Buckley called for a fight, but refused to speak that man’s name, which was a next level call out. Buckley is three fights into his UFC career and he has established himself as someone to keep an eye on.
Antonina Shevchenko: In her previous fight. Katlyn Chookagian took Shevchenko down three times on three attempts and racked up 10:36 of control time on her way to a 30-25x3 victory. Shevchenko seemed to take that May loss to heart as she was very aggressive on her way to a second-round TKO win via ground strikes.
Shevchenko did a marvellous job of taking the shine off Lipski, who was coming off nasty kneebar submission win over Luana Carolina in July.
Alan Jouban: Jouban entered UFC 255 on the worst run of his career. He had gone 1-3 between 2017 and 2019. Fighting for the first time since he lost to Dwight Grant in April of last year, Jouban outclassed Jared Gooden for the decision victory. His striking skills were several levels ahead of Gooden. He was faster, more accurate, used more striking techniques and changed up his levels to great effect. This was a good win for Jouban, who has been slugging out it out since 2011.
Kyle Daukaus: Daukaus had height and reach advantages over Dustin Stoltzfus, but he seemed content to work against the cage on his way to a decision win. Had Daukaus used his distance striking a bit more, he might have been able to do more damage.
Daukaus did well with his ground strikes as well. He found openings for powerful blows.
Daukaus looked good in this fight, but if he can get more comfortable striking at distance he could become a more dangerous fighter.
Sasha Palatnikov: Palatnikov was one of the biggest underdogs on the UFC 255 fight card and likely ruined the event for many bettors when he scored a TKO win over Louis Cosce in the opening fight of the night.
Palatnikov worked through some scary moments in the early going of the contest, but after he took the best strikes his opponent could muster, Palatnikov took over. He was the more well-rounded and more well-prepared of the two competitors, despite accepting the fight on short notice.
I suspect this fight will raise Palatnikov’s profile for his next outing.
Alex Perez: When Perez caught Deiveson Figueiredo’s leg, he was probably pretty sure he was going to get a takedown. I’m going to assume he didn’t see the champ dropping for a leg lock and then transitioning to a guillotine choke, but that’s what Figueiredo did, ending the fight at the 1:57 mark of Round 1. I expect the 28-year-old Perez to stick around the top of the division. He might even one day get a second title shot.
Jennifer Maia: Maia did not back down from Valentina Shevchenko in their UFC 255 co-main event bout. Maia gave a valiant effort and managed to win the second round of the contest, but in the long run, she didn’t have the skills to unseat the reigning champ. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, as Shevchenko is now 6-0 at flyweight with the UFC.
Mike Perry: We know Perry can take a punch and we know he is a strong striker. What we don’t know is where his head is at and if he should continue to fight. The UFC, Perry and his management need to sit down and figure out what is going on with Perry and offer him help if he needs it.
Cynthia Calvillo: Katlyn Chookagian mostly neutralized the offense of Calvillo on Saturday by using her length. Calvillo did not have an answer for Chookagian’s approach. Don’t think that other women’s flyweight fighters did not notice Calvillo’s struggles. She needs to come up with a way to get inside on longer fighters, if Calvillo cannot do that, expect her to tumble down the rankings.
Mauricio Rua: The 38-year-old tapped to strikes in a light heavyweight matchup opposite Paul Craig. It’s hard to tell where Rua goes from here. He has taken a ton of damage throughout his career and more fights against UFC opponents, especially those who are looking to make a name for themselves off someone like Rua does not bode well.
Brandon Royval: Royval lost to Brandon Moreno on Saturday, but he is going to be a problem for any fighter in the flyweight division. He is aggressive. He never stops moving and he has an active guard that never allows his opponent to relax for a moment. He’s also incredibly tough, something he showed while Moreno worked a neck crank/rear-naked choke during their matchup.
Royval’s shoulder popped out of its socket in the final moments of the first-round of his UFC 255 matchup against Moreno. That injury might be an issue if Royval does not get it surgically repaired.
Jordan Wright: Wright showed a good chin for the first five minutes of his bout against Joaquin Buckley, but the damage wore on him and he was defeated for the first time in his career when he was knocked out in the second stanza.
Ariane Lipski: Lipski was coming off a “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning kneebar win over Luana Carolina heading into UFC 255. She was also on a two-fight winning streak heading into her matchup against Antonina Shevchenko. Whatever momentum Lipski gained from that win was lost during this one-sided scrap, which Shevchenko won via TKO.
Jared Gooden: Gooden made his UFC debut against Alan Jouban on the UFC 255 prelims. Gooden had a rough start. He was throwing all of his strikes with 100 percent power and that allowed the more experienced Jouban to handle him during the first five minutes. Gooden took some juice off his punches in the second stanza and he found more success with that approach. Gooden’s head movement was lacking and that allowed Jouban to tag him with several nice combos in the second and third rounds.
Gooden has a lot of room for improvement, but at 26, he has time to make changes.
Dustin Stoltzfus: Stoltzfus didn’t have much to offer Kyle Daukaus other than some slaps to the ears, failed takedowns and failed sub attempts.
Louis Cosce: Cosce learned some valuable lessons on Saturday night. First is pacing is something a fighter must consider when competing in the UFC. Second is that hands down, flat-footed and not a lot of head movement is no way to fight.
Cosce looked good in the early going against Sasha Palatnikov, but when he couldn’t get the knockout after an early blitz, everything changed about his approach. There was a lot to build on from this fight for Cosce. The question is, will Cosce and his camp do so?
Everyone who stuck it out: UFC 255 was a long fight card, to deny the fans the glorious translation of Wallid Ismail just seemed needlessly mean.
Daniel Rodriguez vs. Nicolas Dalby: Does anyone win when the principal topic after a fight isn’t the fighters, but the judges? That’s what happened with this welterweight battle, which Dalby won.