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In defense of booking Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno IV

Another immediate rematch between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno isn’t fair, but it makes sense

As Deiveson Figueiredo waited for Brandon Moreno to enter the octagon at UFC 270, he surely noticed the reception his opponent, who was — at that time — the reigning UFC flyweight champion, received from the crowd at the Honda Center in Anaheim. It was loud; it was approving and it was likely music to Figueiredo’s ears.

After the two battled for an entertaining 25 minutes and UFC president Dana White draped the flyweight belt over the victorious Figueiredo’s shoulder, the Brazilian fighter showed he had not forgotten what he had heard from the Anaheim crowd.

“I’m ready for a fourth fight against Brandon in Mexico,” Figueiredo said through an interpreter during his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Joe Rogan. “We’re going to be doing a fourth fight.”

Yes, please.

Figueiredo won the vacant UFC flyweight title in 2020 with a technical submission win over Joseph Benavidez in July 2020. A first-round submission win over Alex Perez in November earned Figueiredo his first title defense. Then, in a quick turnaround, he fought Moreno to a draw in December 2020.

The rematch between Figueiredo and Moreno took place in June 2021. Moreno took the belt from Figueiredo via third-round submission. The trilogy fight at UFC 270, ended with Figueiredo getting 48-47 scores from all three judges.

From a business perspective, the fourth fight makes perfect sense. Moreno and Figueiredo might not be a “fan favorites” in a strict sense of that phrase, but their fights have been entertaining and they are 1-1-1 against each other. Also, I can’t name a fighter who makes more sense to face Figueiredo than Moreno.

Askar Askarov is the No. 2 ranked fighter in the UFC flyweight division. He is 14-0-1 and coming off a win over Joseph Benavidez in March 2021. He’s scheduled to face No. 6 ranked Kai Kara France, who is 23-9-0-1 and on a two-fight winning streak, in March.

Alexandre Pantoja, who is the No. 3 ranked flyweight, was forced to turn down a title fight against Moreno in December due to knee surgery. Pantoja, who is on a two-fight winning streak, called for a bout with Figueiredo following UFC 270, but his callout largely went unreported and unnoticed, which might indicate how the UFC would feel about booking that contest.

Alex Perez, who is the No. 4 ranked UFC 125-pounder and the most recent fighter not named Figueiredo or Moreno to fight for the title, is booked to face the No. 9 ranked Matt Schnell at UFC 271 in February.

Brandon Royval is the No. 5 ranked UFC flyweight. He is coming off a January 15 split-decision win over the No. 7 ranked Rogerio Bontorin. A one-fight winning streak following a two-fight losing skid is unlikely to get rewarded by the UFC matchmakers.

Hanging over all of this talk about who should be next to compete for the UFC flyweight title is the fact that the promotion nearly walked away from the division not long ago.

Fair play does not come into how the UFC books fights. What sells and what is marketable are more important to the promotion than fairness and keeping a weight division moving.

The UFC could sell Figueiredo vs. Moreno IV in many ways. There’s the rivalry. There’s the fourth title fight between two fighters — which has never happened in UFC history. There’s the 1-1-1 record in the three previous fights. There’s the Mexico vs. Brazil angle and we all know how the UFC loves to use flag waving as a promotional tool. Perhaps most importantly, there is the fact that these two are well known and undoubtedly the two best fighters in the division.

No, it wouldn’t be fair to the other fighters in the UFC’s 125-pound division if Figueiredo vs. Moreno IV happens, but like I said, fairness has never been a thing the UFC has worried about.

I say, bring on the fourth fight and if that one’s close, hell, Figueiredo vs Moreno V might make sense.