UFC 256: Figueiredo vs. Moreno Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC 256 card, set to take place in Las Vegas.

Updated: Dec. 10, 2020 • 2:00 PM ET

Las Vegas will host this weekend's UFC 256 event.

Flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo will defend the title against surging No. 1 contender Brandon Moreno at UFC 256 this Saturday in Las Vegas.

It’s a quick turnaround for Figueiredo, who will defend the belt for the second time since winning the vacant title with a first-round submission of Joseph Benavidez in July. His first defense took place at UFC 255 on Nov. 21 when he defeated Alex Perez, also by first-round submission. In that fight, Figueiredo suffered no damage, making him available for UFC 256, which represents the shortest turnaround between title fights by a champion in UFC history at just 21 days.

The 32-year-old Figueiredo is 20-1 in his professional MMA career and looks like the most dominant flyweight on the planet. Including Perez, the Brazilian fighter has victories over Tim Elliot, Alexandre Pantoja, John Moraga and Benavidez (twice). He’s also feeling confident heading into the fight with Moreno.

“Brandon Moreno comes from a boxing background; he has sharp little boxing, but speaking of jiu-jitsu and takedowns, I see no qualities in him,” Figueiredo said via MMA Fighting. “So it’s an easier match-up for me to fight. I thought Perez’s game was easy, and I think his is way easier.”

Figueiredo added, “(Moreno) will be submitted. I’ll take him down and submit him. First round. He’s not a man to fight two rounds.”

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Moreno is 4-0-1 in his last five fights (6-2-1 in the UFC), most recently defeating Brandon Royval by TKO, also at UFC 255. Hence, he too will fight on a 21-day turnaround for the title and the chance to take down a dominant champion.

The Mexican fighter believes that he has been ready for a title shot for some time now.

“It was weird, because when I got the date, I was counting on my fingers and was like, ‘Man, it’s three weeks from here,’ Moreno said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I talked with my head coach and he said, ‘You are ready. You don’t have any injuries, here is the opportunity of your life. Enjoy it. Just do it.’ I was ready for [a title shot] even before the fight with Royval, so let’s go.”

The 27-year-old Moreno thinks he will benefit from the quick turnaround.

“I think it’s better for me,” Moreno said. “I don’t like to wait too much, and this will be my third fight this year. Obviously, I need to make weight again very fast, maybe that’s a health problem in the future, but right now, I don’t care.”

Moreno knows that he’ll face the toughest challenge of his career against Figueiredo.

“He looks amazing, obviously,” Moreno said. “I do think, before the submission, Alex Perez was getting good punches on Figueiredo, but Figueiredo is really good and was able to get the submission in a really, really close position. He looked strong, but I don’t care.

“I worked too much for this opportunity. I want to go to that fight and not respect his abilities. I respect Figueiredo as an athlete, but in the moment where he and I step into the Octagon, I don’t want to respect his abilities. I want to go and take everything [from him] and put it in my hands.”

Co-main event

Saturday’s co-main event will be a lightweight bout with major title implications between former interim champion Tony Ferguson and No. 7 ranked Charles Oliveira.

Ferguson, the No. 3 ranked lightweight in the world, will fight for the first time since losing to Justin Gaethje by fifth-round TKO at UFC 249 in May. Prior to the loss, Ferguson was on a 12-fight winning streak and primed for a bout with champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, a fight the UFC has tried to make five different times. After the fifth cancellation, Ferguson accepted and lost the interim title fight against Gaethje, who went on to fight Nurmagomedov and lost by second-round submission at UFC 254 in October.

With Nurmagomedov announcing his retirement immediately after the win over Gaethje, Ferguson could be one win away from finding himself as the No. 1 contender once again. Defeating Oliveira, however, isn’t Ferguson’s only concern.

“I Am Counting On The Brazilian [Oliveira] & Others To Come In Overweight Like Usual,” the 36-year-old Ferguson recently posted to his Instagram account. “So I’m Calling It Now. Case Law: Short Notice Fight, [Oliveira] Will Not Cut Weight All Week & Show Up 3-4 Lbs Over Weight & Use The Excuse Of A Short Notice Fight. If he shows up that much overweight We are not competing.”

If Oliveira makes weight and Ferguson defeats him, Ferguson will add another name to his arguably Hall of Fame worthy resume. He also has key victories over Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee, Rafael dos Anjos, Lando Vannata, Edson Barboza, Josh Thomson, Gleison Tibau and Abel Trujillo.

Meanwhile, Oliveira has won seven straight fights, most recently defeating Kevin Lee by third-round submission in March. It’s hard to believe Oliveira is still just 31 years old, because he has fought in the UFC since 2010, but he has hit a stride that has put him in place to make a run at the lightweight title, which could start with a win over Ferguson.

The Brazilian believes the winner of this fight will be the next to fight for the title.

“It’s very clear: Whoever wins this fight is the next title contender,” Oliveira said via MMA Fighting. “I have to stay focused and concentrated. He was coming off 12 wins in a row, and I think he made a mistake against Justin Gaethje, so we can’t make mistakes in there.”

Oliveira believes he knows how to defeat Ferguson, a task many fighters have failed at.

“He’s super tough,” Oliveira said. “He has his own fighting style, he spins with the elbow, the arm, the leg. He shoots for takedowns in a completely different way.

“We know the difficulties that this fight brings, the problem coming my way, but this is my moment. My time has come. There’s not much to do, just train and dedicate. I’ll have the perfect strategy for this fight, and I’ll make it happen. He’s tough and has an incredible cardio, so let’s go.”

Including Lee, Oliveira has key victories over David Teymur, Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Myles Jury, Jeremy Stephens and Darren Elkins. He owns the record for most submission victories in UFC history (14) and matches up well with Ferguson on the ground. Oliveira will need to dictate the pace of the bout early and cannot get stuck in a marathon style fight with Ferguson.

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. EST

Lightweight bout - Renato Moicano vs. Rafael Fiziev

Middleweight bout - No. 15 Kevin Holland vs. Ronaldo Souza

Heavyweight bout - No. 7 Junior dos Santos vs. No. 14 Ciryl Gane

 

Prelims on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. EST

Featherweight bout - Cub Swanson vs. Daniel Pineda

Women’s strawweight bout - No. 11 Mackenzie Dern vs. No. 13 Virna Jandiroba

Featherweight bout - Gavin Tucker vs. Billy Quarantillo

Women’s strawweight bout - No. 10 Tecia Torres vs. Sam Hughes

 

Early Prelims on UFC Fight Pass

Featherweight bout - Chase Hooper vs. Peter Barrett

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