UFC 255 is all finished, and the flyweight belts never came close to changing hands.
Deiveson Figueiredo was supposed to face Cody Garbrandt in the main event, but Alex Perez stepped up in Garbrandt’s absence and figured to be a formidable opponent. When Perez went for a takedown, Figueiredo kept his balance on the single leg and then he dropped for a leg lock. Next thing you know Perez is trying to scramble and take the back, only for Figueiredo to snatch up an arm-in guillotine the moment he got into guard. We saw Figueiredo drop for a guillotine against Tim Elliott and tap him out quickly, but the way in which he was able to submit Perez was absolutely awesome. You fear his striking so much but forget this dude can do terrible things to your neck, too.
I want to see him against Brandon Moreno next. That would be a bonkers fight and a legitimately compelling opponent who could beat him. If Henry Cejudo comes out of retirement then screw a Volkanovski fight then I’d be down for Figueiredo vs. Cejudo, too! There’s no doubt that we are witnessing a special fighter, and he showcased his diverse skill set once again.
In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko wasn’t exactly at her absolute sharpest or necessarily her most dominant, but she still pretty handily beat Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision (49-46 x3) to retain her women’s flyweight belt. Shevchenko dropped round two when Maia got a takedown and extended top control time. This caused a major freakout on Twitter and at this point I had to mute Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier’s commentary because it was beyond unbearable. The champ mixed in takedowns with pinpoint counterstriking (like normal? I mean Rogan and DC seems shocked this happened) and dominated the rest of the way. If there’s no trilogy with Amanda Nunes on the horizon then let’s see her against Jessica Andrade. At least Andrade’s strength combined with her power may create a different intrigue even knowing she’s at a skill disadvantage.
Rest of the night:
- Tim Means and Mike Perry had a predictably fun fight although it didn’t start out the way anyone might have expected. Perry almost choked out Means in the opening round after he pursued the takedown, but from then on it was Means who controlled the majority of the striking exchanges. There were some back-and-forth bombs lobbed but Means was the deserved winner. Too composed, too technical, and too sharp. Perry of course missed weight by a bunch, was recently accused of domestic violence, and definitely punched a guy at a restaurant. He is 3-6 in his last nine. I don’t know what more he needs to do to get himself cut from the UFC.
- Say goodbye to a title shot, Cynthia Calvillo. At least for now. Katlyn Chookagian outstruck and kiya’ed the ever-loving shit out of Calvillo on her way to a 30-27 decision across the board. Calvillo couldn’t get her wrestling going at all and really struggled with Chookagian’s size and reach advantage. Chookagian obviously ain’t getting another crack at the belt both because Shevchenko is still the champ and she lost to Jessica Andrade, but she’s very much a legitimate contender and Calvillo has to go back to the drawing board.
- In a rematch of their 2019 draw, MMA legend Shogun Rua got his ass kicked by Paul Craig and tapped to strikes in round two. It was a sorry sight to see and while this was only his second loss since 2015, that performance has left me thoroughly against watching him compete again. I usually enjoy Paul Craig fights but this was just a bummer.
- No more doubting Brandon Moreno. He is better than ever since his surprising UFC release a couple of years back. “The Assassin Baby” stopped Brandon Royval with strikes just before the end of round one, but all anyone will talk about is Royval’s messed up shoulder. Marc Goddard did stop it because of the unanswered punches and not the dislocated shoulder, but Moreno was the one who put Royval in that nasty position in the first place. Forget Cody Garbrandt, Moreno should get the next flyweight title shot. I already said this in the second paragraph but it bears repeating. Alas, I expect Cody to get it anyway.
- Joaquin Buckley’s encore after his epic KO of Impa Kasanganay? Just a run of the mill “ooooh that’s gotta hurt” starching of Jordan Wright. The man hits hard. Why not see him go at it with James Krause? Those two seem to have beef and that’s a fascinating matchup between a technical, free-flowing striker and a dangerously h
- Antonina Shevchenko thoroughly dismantled and stopped Ariane Lipski in round two, a preview of what was to come for her sister Valentina later that evening. Shevchenko easily outgrappled the former KSW champion and finished it with a barrage of ground strikes. An impressive bounce back performance for her after the one-sided defeat to Katlyn Chookagian, whereas Lipski’s disappointing run inside the Octagon now goes to 2-3.
- Nicolas Dalby scored an upset over Daniel Rodriguez in a surprisingly unexciting unanimous decision. The first round was competitive and interesting but for some reason it just cratered into a drab, minimal display of offense over the final ten minutes. I had it 29-28 Dalby so I figured it was fair. Dalby needed that after the loss to Jesse Ronson, while Rodriguez’s breakout 2020 will end at 3-1 instead of 4-0.
- Alan Jouban engaged in a real fun three-round slugfest with Jared Gooden, prevailing in a shutout decision that wasn’t as lopsided as the scores might suggest. Gooden was certainly hurt more often but he tagged Jouban plenty of times and at the end Gooden nearly tapped to a tight Jouban guillotine. Good to see Jouban back in there after a long layoff due to ACL surgery.
- Kyle Daukaus pretty comfortably outclassed Dustin Stoltzfus to take a shutout unanimous decision. He damn near finished Stoltzfus in the final round but really just ran out of time. Not a memorable fight but a good win for Daukaus just to get back on track after losing to fellow middleweight prospect Brendan Allen.
- Sasha Palatnikov came in on two weeks notice as a heavy underdog against Contender Series signing Louis Cosce. For about two minutes that looked justified. Then it turned into one of the best rounds of the year as they just unleashed hell on each other until they were exhausted. Cosce, who’s so used to winning early, was gassed beyond repair and no amount of fouls could get his gas tank back. Palatnikov picks up the upset in a dramatic comeback third-round TKO. What a way to kick the night off!