Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno II serves as the co-main event for UFC 262 this June 12, 2021 at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
One sentence summary
David: Lord of the Fly’s
Phil: Ferocious Flyweight Frenzy II: The Violencening
Record: Deiveson Figueiredo 20-1-1 Brandon Moreno 18-5-2
Odds: Deiveson Figueiredo -192 Brandon Moreno +177
History / Introduction to the fighters
David: Thankfully, this fight isn’t two weeks removed from his previous bout like last time. Figueredo has had six months to cool off, and re-rack for yet another five round war of attrition. That sounds worse than it is, actually. After all, before Moreno, Figueredo’s resume was a series of first round chokes, and walking around Joseph Benavidez on a death leash.
Phil: Figgy Smalls is must-watch TV at this point (and basically every other point). Whereas most champions have made concessions to the longevity of their reigns by embracing more “technical,” defensive styles, Figueiredo kicked off his first official title defence by walking down Moreno and jamming him with hard jabs and sweeping hooks to the body. He has talked more about wanting to be more defensively aware (like... Kamaru Usman...?) but honestly I hope we just get the same ride-or-die monster who gets bored of being a technician after about five or ten minutes.
David: I’ve never been good at projecting TUF fighters, and so for the longest time, I didn’t think Moreno was all that besides being a super likeable carnal. It took me a long time to respect that TUF has nothing to do with developing fighters, and so to the extent that TUF fighters end up having something to offer, it depends on their pedigree, their support network, and if they can swim rather than sink. Moreno started to swim early on. In fact, wins over Ryan Benoit and Dustin Ortiz made him look too good. And then the Pettis and Pantoja fights happened. Since then he’s just been crashing and banging his way to victory until it earned him a match with Figgy himself, and now we look at Moreno as the real deal. Question is: is he?
Phil: It’s a weird one for Moreno, because so much of his early success seemed so frankly unreplicable. Weird headkicks and strange subs, with his only visible physical gift being incredible durability. This wasn’t like Kelvin Gastelum, who also had a bunch of quick finishes, because there was really nothing that jumped out about Moreno aside from the finishes: you didn’t marvel at his backtake game, or handspeed, or explosion. He was just kind of... winning, on singular moments. Those Pettis and Pantoja fights seemed to cap his progression, but now here he is, a high-pace, genuinely functional boxer who can hang with even the most physical beasts in his division.
What’s at stake?
David: Flyweight itself is always at stake. Nobody has more to lose than an elite flyweight.
Phil: If Moreno wins, do they do the rubber match immediately? It would only seem fair.
Where do they want it?
David: Figueiredo is such a fun collection of various killshots. And he’s violent with everything. There’s nothing he can’t try to strangle or nearly knock unconscious. Rather than follow a specific rhythm, Figueiredo tends to react, sometimes stalk, but the key is that he’s always taking an initiative. He’s confident enough in his skillset that there’s no real area that gives him pause, or makes him worry about where the fight might go. I think that’s why he slides in and out of styles so easily. Sometimes a counterpuncher, sometimes a brawler, sometimes a grappler, it’s all the same. It’s all ‘the street’ as Avon might say. And no fighter is more prepared to walk into a field of bullets like Figueiredo.
Phil: He’s still hittable and lives through his chin and power, but to his credit Figueired addressed at least one constant criticism I’ve had of him in his last fight: directional aimlessness. This was also true in the Benavidez fight, which leads me to believe that it might be a more durable long-term trend. Instead of waiting for the shots to come to him, he moved Moreno around the cage and cut him off with sweeping hooks. Then he got bored and went a bit nuts, but there you go. One thing I definitely liked was when he jabbed with the more active fighter: he’s a surprisingly good fencer, leaning back and countering with his own right jab, which vastly outdamages Morenos’.
David: For Moreno, it’s all about getting the fight as grimy as possible. If you were single out any one punch of his, nothing would stand out: at least in the context of Best Weapons at Flyweight. Moreno isn’t a super accurate striker, nor a particularly powerful one. Yet he keeps winning. For Moreno, broad tempo is better than raw threats. It’s less important to land a specific punch than to land a sequence of strikes. It’s less important to focus on a specific sequence of strikes than to keep the sequences going. It reminds me of load management in team sports, where rather than spam the best players, you simply roll lines and let the intensity take over. Sure, this is typical of most lighter weight fighters, but rarely in such a defined way.
Phil: In spots, Moreno looks like a genuinely good boxer: doubling and tripling up on the jab, slipping, working body shots etc. Mechanically he is simply not the puncher that Figueiredo is, but he makes up for it by being crafty and double tough: for all the depth of his left hand, he tends to sell out on the right, which in turn makes it even more potent, but also opens him up to counter shots (think JDS, but much better). Adding his own right high kick into the equation is something he’s always done, and which seems like it can can potentially pick up on Figueredo’s tendency to lean away from shots.
Insight from past fights
David: One of the things that really defined their first bout, as I’ve already discussed, is how Figueiredo won the war to get inside. Figueiredo loves to fight inside when he’s not counterstriking, and for the most part, Figueiredo was winning the exchanges when Moreno failed to get the fight to the ground. When Moreno did draw ahead, it was because he could disrupt Figueiredo’s flow with bodylock takedowns, and the follow up striking offense was solid bodywork, and violent head smashing. Figueiredo, who is not known for this, was the one dictating the pace and controlling tempo against an elite tempo fighter. I do think there’s a sketch there for Moreno to win. Force scrambles, keep Fig on the outside, and keep the output humming.
Phil: Things to work on for both fighters, I think. Firstly, for Moreno: he can’t get backed into the cage as often. Figueiredo is an absolute destroyer there, and Moreno just absolutely must initiate exchanges, even at the peril of getting countered. He needs to land his jab and one two. The takedowns worked well, he just needs to find a way to convert them into control. For Figueiredo, he needs to not get thrown off the rails (ie giving up on his own jab and just going insane in exchanges), because even his fabled durability can be (and was) damaged by flinging himself out of position and getting clocked while fully off balance. He should also recognize how good his left kick was at controlling Moreno at range, and shelving his right hand.
David: Just the usual hyperviolence that comes with two quick, gifted flyweights.
Phil: How much damage Moreno took in the first fight, and Figueiredo’s seemingly increasingly hard weight cuts seem to be the two major ones.
David: I always want to find ways to confirm my bias against the underdog. If there is a way they win, what would that be, and how likely could that outcome manifest? Moreno is just so likeable and effervescent. But there’s a difference between fight toughness and fight durability. Fight toughness is being able to absorb punishment without losing your rhythm. Fight durability is being able to absorb punishment in and of itself. Moreno may have both, but not against Figueiredo. I trust Moreno to fight until the final bell, but I don’t trust Moreno to be a threat until the final bell. Deveison Figueiredo by TKO, round 5.
Phil: Their last fight was consistently competitive, and violent, but it was not close. I gave Moreno a round, and then there was the point deduction. In general, he has to do more to change the fight than Figueiredo does. In addition, that fifth round was just pretty concerning for the challenger- it was obvious who wanted it more, and I always find it particularly worrying when someone with championship aspirations fades out at the last minute. As reductive as it is, I think Figueiredo just wants it more. Also he hits about three times as hard. Deveison Figueiredo by TKO, round 4.