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wandshogun09

UFC Norfolk: Benavidez vs Figueiredo - Feb 29 🇺🇸

Who wins and how?   

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Saturday 29th February in Norfolk, Virginia. This Flyweight title mess is finally getting settled. 

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ESPN+ MAIN CARD
Joseph Benavidez vs Deiveson Figueiredo - Vacant Flyweight Title

Felicia Spencer vs Zarah Fairn Dos Santos 

Ion Cutelaba vs Magomed Ankalaev

Megan Anderson vs Norma Dumont 

Grant Dawson vs Darrick Minner
 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Gabriel Silva vs Kyler Phillips 

Tom Breese vs Brendan Allen

Marcin Tybura vs Sergey Spivak

Luis Pena vs Steve Garcia 

Jordan Griffin vs TJ Brown 

Aalon Cruz vs Spike Carlyle

Ismail Naurdiev vs Sean Brady 

 

Got a feeling a lot of people are going to be indifferent to this card, some will probably even shit on it because of the lack of ‘stars’ and all that. I think that’s a very solid card though. Some really nice matchups on this one. 



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Joseph Benavidez vs Deiveson Figueiredo then. The Flyweight title picture should’ve been cleared up a long time ago. It’s dragged on and on. The title has been on ice for over a year now. It’s not been the most popular division at the best of times but shit like this certainly doesn’t help.

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This bastard.

Henry Cejudo won the belt back in August 2018, surprising the MMA world by dethroning the 125lb GOAT Demetrious Johnson. He defended it against Dirty Dillashaw in January 2019, won by first round knockout and the title has lay dormant ever since. Cejudo jumped up to 135 and took the Bantamweight strap. So two UFC belts and an Olympic gold medal. He’s been subtle about it though. He’s barely mentioned it. Good ol’ Legohead. Anyway, he was supposed to drop back down to defend his Flyweight title at some point. At least I think that was the plan. He wanted to keep both belts and defend both. But a shoulder injury cocked those plans up and in December it was confirmed that he’d be relinquishing the 125 belt. The division must move on. And besides, there’s already talk of Cejudo defending the gold at 135lbs against Aldo soon. The Flyweights would’ve been waiting forever whether Triple C was healthy or not. 

Kind of sucked for Benavidez because he does have that controversial points win over Cejudo back in 2016. A rematch for the belt would’ve been logical. Not a blockbuster or anything but it’d have tied up that loose end. Benavidez is the last person to get a win over Cejudo after all. Benavidez doesn’t seem arsed though. He just wants the gold. 

“It’s almost like an undisputed or whatever because I already beat Cejudo. Figueiredo is challenging me, or whatever way you want to look at it. Basically, a title is a title. The goal wasn’t to beat a certain person, it was to win a title, and that’s happening. Having already beat Cejudo, who vacated it, at the end of the day, he’s the one not putting up a fight, not trying to avenge the loss. The way I look at it is, he gave it up without a fight.” - Joseph Benavidez

Anyway, balls to King Cringe. This Benavidez vs Figueiredo fight is actually really good in its own right. Benavidez is obviously the more well known. He’s been a fixture in the lighter weight classes for over a decade now, dating back to those Dominick Cruz fights in the WEC days. I actually think he’s a bit underappreciated. Maybe because people have just never been that jazzed about the 125ers in general. Or maybe it’s jealousy because he’s married to the lovely Megan Olivi.

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Ahh, cute. MMA’s favourite little munchkin couple.

Regardless, he’s a good fighter. He’s been there or thereabouts in the title mix for what seems like forever now. The fights with DJ, the close one with Cejudo. He’ll go on streaks then lose a crucial fight. He’s looked good of late though, winning 3 on the bounce and stopping Jussier Formiga in his last fight in June.

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Figueiredo is no joke though. He’s 17-1 in his MMA career. The only loss was a decision against Formiga. Of his 17 wins, 14 were finished inside the distance, which isn’t typical at Flyweight. He’s beat a few decent guys as well like Alexandre Pantoja and John Moraga. He also subbed Tim Elliott in a round in his most recent fight in October. Elliott took Mighty Mouse to the scorecards a few years ago so it was a pretty impressive display from Figueiredo. And I just like his style. He’s a nasty little shite in there. Really good striking, aggressive with both his standup and his submission game. He’s a fun fighter to watch. Plus his nickname ‘Deus Da Guerra’ means ‘God Of War’. What’s not to like? Well, that silly hair dye job can go but apart from that, I think he’s my guy at Flyweight. 

 

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Felicia Spencer vs Zarah Fairn Dos Santos is down in the co-main spot going by MMA Junkie’s bout order. Seems a bit off but whatever. Maybe it’s right. The UFC seemed quite high on Spencer because she was able to survive to the cards with Cyborg over the summer. That’s really all she did though, survive. But fair play, not many do. I quite like her, to be fair. Seems nice enough and she’s a good grappler. From the limited footage I’ve seen of both, I see this as a showcase fight for Spencer. She’s a BJJ black-belt, former Invicta champ, was 7-0 before the Cyborg fight etc. There’s upside there. And while I’ve only seen Dos Santos once, she got subbed in a round by Megan Anderson, who’s not exactly Demian Maia herself on the mat. I think they’re looking to build Spencer back up. And given the lack of depth at 145lbs, rightly so. They need someone for Amanda Nunes to fight and in a Cyborgless division, I can see Spencer getting the shot before 2020’s over.

 

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Ion Cutelaba vs Magomed Ankalaev is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** on this card. I love this fight. Cutelaba is so much fun to watch. He probably won’t amount to that much because I think his aggression works against him at times. The elite fighters will be able to use it against him. But he’s one of those mad bastards where to beat him you usually have to weather a bad storm. He’s 15-4-1 now and fresh off a first round destruction of Khalil Rountree on the Copenhagen show. Of his 15 wins, 14 were finishes, 12 were by KO. He’s a right horrible bastard. Not unbeatable but definitely no fun to fight against. Ankalaev is 27 years old from Straight Outta Dagestan. He’s 13-1 and the loss was a fight he was winning for 14:59 before Paul Craig caught him in a triangle at literally the last second! One second’s difference and this guy is still undefeated. He’s won 3 since then and scored a stunning front kick KO over Dalcha Lungiambula on the Moscow card in November. Cracking piece of matchmaking this. Just two hard as nails sods going nose to nose. I’d favour Ankalaev but Cutelaba is just one of those pitbull types you can’t count out. Especially early in a fight.

 

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Megan Anderson vs Norma Dumont is just filler really but could be an OK little fight. Anderson has had a bit of an odd start to her UFC career. She’s 8-2 overall but has gone 2-2 in the Octagon so far. Lost to Holm and Spencer. And even the Cat Zingano win was dodgy with the toe-eyepoke finish. She finally got that long awaited first controversy-free UFC victory in October, submitting Zarah Fairn in a round. Maybe she can start building some momentum off the back of that. Never seen Dumont before. She’s Brazilian, 27 years old, 4-0 so far with 2 submissions and has fought in the Shooto Brazil and Jungle Fight promotions. So far, so good for her.

 

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Gabriel Silva vs Kyler Phillips opens up the main card. Silva is the younger brother of ex UFC and Bellator fighter Erick Silva. He’s 25 years old and has a 8-1 record with 4 finishes. He’s coming into this one off his first loss to Ray Borg. Phillips is 24, 6-2 in MMA. Think he was on TUF at some point. That’s all I’ve got on him.

 

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Tom Breese vs Brendan Allen is a mystery to me at this point. Breese is from my neck of the woods in sunny old Birmingham. He really looked like someone to keep an eye on early on in his career. He was training at Tri-Star in Canada and went 7-0 with 7 finishes and won the BAMMA Welterweight belt. Signed with the UFC in 2015 and rattled off 3 wins, including twatting Conor McGregor’s mate and UKFF favourite Cathal Pendred. He suffered his first defeat in 2016, a split decision, then injuries started piling up. He briefly returned in 2018 and bashed Dan Kelly but then returned to the injured list. He’s fought once in over 3 years. Really shitty break for him. He’s just been plagued by injuries one after another. Hopefully that’s behind him now and he can crack on. Allen is 13-3 and trains at Roufusport in Milwaukee. He submitted Kevin Holland in his UFC debut recently. Tough return for Breese, I reckon.

 

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Marcin Tybura vs Sergey Spivak isn’t really grabbing me by the bollocks. I don’t hate it but I’m not feeling it. Tybura is 1-4 in his last 5 and coming off back-to-back knockout losses. He got done in a minute last time out. Not good. Spivak is only 25 and he’s 10-1 with all his wins coming by stoppage. His only loss is to Walt Harris who caught him cold early in their fight. He bounced back by submitting Tai Tuivasa in October. He might actually have some potential. Maybe this’ll be better than I’m expecting. I’m probably being a tad harsh. Just don’t recall ever really enjoying watching Tybura but maybe Spivak can make it interesting.

 

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Jordan Griffin vs TJ Brown is another one where I’m only familiar with one guy. Griffin is 17-7, nicknamed ‘Native Psycho’ for some reason. And once again, I’ll take this opportunity to pimp his amazing fight with Chas Skelly from September’s Vancouver show. Get it watched. TJ ‘Downtown’ Brown is from DWCS as well. 11-6 with 10 finishes. I’ve really got to start checking that show out.

 

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Aalon Cruz vs Spike Carlyle pits two UFC newcomers against each other. Haven’t seen either fight before. It was supposed to be Cruz vs Steven Peterson but Peterson dropped out. All I know about Cruz is he’s another DWCS guy and has a 8-2 record. Carlyle is steeping in on late notice and looking like a mini Sheamus off WWE. His nickname is the ‘Alpha Ginger’, he’s 26 years old and he’s 8-1 with 7 finishes. 

 

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Ismail Naurdiev vs Sean Brady is yet another fight that could’ve been my ‘one to watch’. Two legit prospects here for me. Naurdiev is just 23 years old, Austrian, already 19-3 with 16 finishes. He beat Siyar Bahadurzada easily on points in his last fight. I like the look of him so far. Brady is 27 from Philadelphia, undefeated at 11-0. BJJ black-belt under Daniel Gracie. Looks good from the bits I’ve seen. He beat Court McGee in his Octagon debut on the Boston card in October. I think they both show a lot of promise and neither are the finished product yet. Could be a case, like with Poirier vs Holloway, where they’re meeting here fairly early on but they’ll cross paths again with higher stakes down the road. 

 

So yeah, might not look all that on first glance but do a bit of homework and I think that’s a nifty little card myself. 

 

Edited by wandshogun09

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Glad to see Breese back in the mix, at one point he seemed like the UK's next big thing. I remember the Tri-Star connection being a big deal back when he first came into the UFC. He's abit of a forgotten man now, just shows how quickly injuries can derail a career.

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Am I right in saying Breese pulled out of a fight due to an anxiety attack? That might be more of a concern than any physical injury.

Not fighting on a home card with presumably less media focus can only be a good thing in that regard you would imagine. 

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Anatomy of a Fighter are doing a series following Benavidez into this, will be worth a watch, part 1 is here:

 

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Slack's preview.

After watching this video and reading Wand's preview, I really want Figueiredo to win. He's bonkers, but in a good way. 

 

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Has to be Benavidez for me. I love seeing guys who've come close before finally win the big one. Two losses in title fights, and he's 35 years old. Have to imagine this is his last chance.

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Nice video Jim. And yeah, I’m rooting for Figueiredo. I don’t mind Benavidez but I’ve never really warmed to any of the Team Alpha Male lot. I probably slightly favour Benavidez to win this fight, for some of the reasons highlighted in that video. But there’s something I love about Figueiredo’s style. He’s nowhere near the athletic freak Yoel Romero is but he kind of reminds me of a mini Yoel in how unpredictable he is and how unorthodox his attacks are. He’s just the exciting fighter and nutcase the Flyweight division needs. 

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6 hours ago, David said:

Has to be Benavidez for me. I love seeing guys who've come close before finally win the big one. Two losses in title fights, and he's 35 years old. Have to imagine this is his last chance.

yeh same here, the fact that Benavidez has stated in or around the top 5 of 125 or 135 for over 10 years is pretty amazing, 4th times a charm...

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Fuck sake. Figueiredo missed weight. The fight is going ahead but now, if he wins, he can’t win the title. So if he beats Benavidez tomorrow night the Flyweight belt is still on ice. Figgy Smalls has fucked it all up good and proper. 

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Edited by wandshogun09

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When I saw “UFC Norfolk” I got the image of two fat lads with webbed feet fighting in a ring made up of Range Rovers and a crowd shouting for the big baldy bastard. So anything else will be a disappointment now. 

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14 hours ago, Keith Houchen said:

two fat lads with webbed feet fighting in a ring made up of Range Rovers and a crowd shouting for the big baldy bastard. 

Sounds like an idea Art Davie would’ve came up with during the formation of the UFC in 1993. I’d still watch it as long as this man was headlining. 

 

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Figueiredo and Benavidez had a great fight while it lasted. It's a shame about the weight miss, throwing a spanner in the works, and yet again the guy missing weight is the winner, which so often happens. When a title is on the line it's even more messy. I think that'll be it for the flyweights now, unless Cejudo loses to Jose Aldo and fancies his chances going back to 125 to take on Figueiredo for the vacant title. UFC might hold off until May to make a decision on it going forward. 

Tonnes of weirdness in the Ion Cutelaba fight. I'm still not sure how I feel about what happened. One thing's for sure with him yet again though, don't blink. Something is going to go down.

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Figueiredo size and chin made a big difference in the early going. He was able to brush off Benavidez's strikes and neutralise his wrestling.

A lot will no doubt be made of the clash of heads. However, Benavidez tends to burst in with his strikes and lead with his head, which always carries the risk of running face first into your opponent skull. In that regard, Benavidez was somewhat the architect of his own downfall. Nonetheless, it would have been interesting to see how Figueiredo's cardio would have held up in the later rounds. As Bisping noted, he was slowing down a bit at the end of round 1. 

Is this the end of the Flyweight division? Who knows. If so, I would be up for Figueiredo vs Cejedo at 135lbs later in the year. Or maybe even Figueiredo vs Aldo should the latter upset Cejudo in a few months time. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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