UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Norfolk, Va.

Updated: Feb. 27, 2020 • 12:35 PM ET

Norfolk, Va. will host this weekend's UFC event.

Update: Deiveson Figueiredo is not eligible to win the vacant title due to missing weight.​

The UFC will crown a new flyweight champion this Saturday, as two-time title challenger and No. 1 contender Joseph Benavidez will fight No. 3 Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant belt at UFC Fight Night in Norfolk, Va.

Multi-divisional champion Henry Cejudo released the title in December to focus on defending the bantamweight belt, and it’s important to note that Benavidez (28-5, 15-3 in UFC) already has a win over the bantamweight champion. Currently on a three-fight winning streak, the 35-year-old Benavidez has fought in the UFC since 2011 and been the best 125-pound fighter not named Demetrious Johnson.

Benavidez fought for the UFC’s inaugural flyweight title fight against Johnson in 2012 and lost a close split decision. He earned a rematch against Johnson a little more than a year later, having fought three times in between, but was knocked out in the first round. The only other loss Benavidez has suffered in the UFC was a split-decision to Sergio Pettis at UFC 225 in 2018.

Aside the losses to Johnson and Pettis, Benavidez has been unbeatable with key victories over nearly all the top contenders in the flyweight division, including Cejudo, Jussier Formiga (twice), Dustin Ortiz (twice), Alex Perez, Zach Makovsky, Ali Bagautinov, John Moraga, Tim Elliot, Ian McCall and Eddie Wineland.

Benavidez’s long journey to another shot at a UFC belt will end against a guy he has yet to fight in Figueiredo. He hasn’t chased a second fight with Cejudo, willingly fighting all contenders.

“Yeah, I’m not about the double-champ stuff,” Benavidez recently said via BJPenn.com. “I mean, Henry is not someone I need to chase. I have the win over him, that was kind of his job to come and do it again.”

“I moved on after our fight, he’s moved on since then, that’s great too, but it’s not my fight to go chase. Henry’s not the fight that I want or I need or I was trying to chase having a win over him. That’s his fight to get back.”

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The former title challenger wants to continue to be the best in the flyweight division.

“Honestly, it might sound crazy, but I just want to fight the next best person in my division,” Benavidez said. “No other gender, no other weight-class, no other anything, I just want to fight the best guys in my division, like I’ve been doing my whole career.”

The 32-year-old Figueiredo (17-1 overall, 6-1 in UFC) has taken a long road to fighting. The Brazilian’s only loss came by unanimous decision to Formiga last March, and he most recently defeated Elliott by submission in October after a Fight of the Night unanimous decision win over Alexandre Pantoja last July at UFC 240.

Figueiredo knows what being a UFC champion would mean for his future.

“The belt will change my life, especially the financial situation,” Figueiredo said via Time24 News. “I will be able to help my family, something that I want very strongly. I want to build something cool in my city.

“The title will give me a lot of knowledge inside and outside my country. I am very happy to be a reference for the kids, for my city and to give them happiness with my victories. I want to continue doing this for a long time. This belt will be the greatest gift that I will be able to give to the city, to the Brazilians and to everyone who follows my work. I even daydream. I find myself arriving with the belt, lifting and saying ‘It’s ours!’ Imagine the party in Soure!”

Figueiredo is expecting a hard-fought battle with Benavidez, but says he is prepared for the challenge.

“I’m 100 percent ready, I can’t wait to be inside the Octagon,” Figueiredo said. “I want to look at Benavidez and say, ‘It’s you and me, my brother. Let’s talk, it’s time to play, to show people.’ That’s what I know how to do.

“I’m prepared a thousand times. I’ve been training to neutralize his game. I’m going to hunt Benavidez, make him walk backwards. If he puts me down, I will use my marajoara fight and my jiu-jitsu.

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. EST

Women’s featherweight bout - Felicia Spencer vs. Zarah Fairn

Light heavyweight bout - Ion Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev

Women’s featherweight bout - Megan Anderson vs. Norma Dumont

Featherweight bout - Grant Dawson vs. Darrick Minner

 

ESPN+ Prelims at 5 p.m. EST

Bantamweight bout - Gabriel Silva vs. Kyler Phillips

Middleweight bout - Brendan Allen vs. Tom Breese

Heavyweight bout - Marcin Tybura vs. Serghei Spivac

Lightweight bout - Luis Pena vs. Steve Garcia

Featherweight bout - Jordan Griffin vs. TJ Brown

Featherweight bout - Aalon Cruz vs. Spike Carlyle

Welterweight bout - Sean Brady vs. Ismail Naurdiev

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