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We want Garbrandt to ‘prove he can make 125’ - Figueiredo calls title shot idea ‘unfair’ to challengers

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It sounds like the UFC flyweight champion isn’t all that interested in entertaining the idea of facing Cody Garbrandt as the next challenger to his title.

UFC Fight Night: Figueredo v Benavidez 2 Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Following Deiveson Figureiredo’s dominant victory over longtime top contender Joseph Benavidez in their July title fight rematch, it seems Cody Garbrandt saw an opportunity. The former bantamweight champion has long teased a potential drop to the flyweight division and, without a clear challenger to the Brazilian’s newly captured title waiting in the wings, this appeared to be the perfect time to make that move—and maybe just cash in big in the process.

But, if a quick jump down to 125 lbs for a title fight was Garbrandt’s plan, it appears ‘Deus Da Guerra’ has other plans. Figueiredo recently spoke to MMA Fighting about the Team Alpha Male fighter’s championship aspirations, and made it clear that he’d like to see ‘No Love’ fight in the division first. At least once.

“We want him to prove he can make 125 pounds and fight someone in my weight class,” Figueiredo said, speaking of Garbrandt. “After that, if he wins, he can come fight me. But we don’t agree with him coming down and skipping the line and going straight for the belt against me. He needs to prove he can make 125 and fight someone. It would be unfair if the UFC puts him straight for the belt. I think the UFC has to respect the others that worked hard for a title shot.”

Instead Figureiredo said he was targeting bouts against Brandon Moreno or Askar Askarov. Noting that he would “definitely submit” the former, and knock out the latter, “just to show him my boxing is better.”

Askarov and Moreno only just entered (or, in Moreno’s case, re-entered) the UFC’s flyweight division in September of last year, facing off against one another in Askarov’s debut with the promotion. The fight ended in a split draw. Both men have won two fights, by decision, in the year since.

The other potential contender at 125 lbs comes in the form of Team Oyama talent Alex Perez. Perez is 6-1 at flyweight and bantamweight since signing with the UFC in 2017. His lone loss came via first round TKO to Joe Benavidez on the TUF 28 finale. Perez is 3-0 since losing to Benavidez, with two of those wins coming inside the distance.