Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno II serves as the co-main event for UFC 262 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on June 12, 2021.
Summary in one sentence
David: Lord of the flies
Phil: Wild Flyweight Frenzy II: The Violencening
Recording: Deiveson Figueiredo 20-1-1 Brandon Moreno 18-5-2
Opportunities: Deiveson Figueiredo -192 Brandon Moreno +177
History / introduction to the fighters
David: Fortunately, like last time, this fight is not two weeks away from his previous fight. Figueredo had six months to cool off and gear up for another five rounds of attrition warfare. That sounds worse than it is. Finally, Figueredo’s résumé before Moreno consisted of a series of chokes on the first round and Joseph Benavidez walking around on the leash.
Phil: Figgy Smalls is a must see at this point (and basically every other point). While most champions have made concessions to the longevity of their reigns by adopting “technical” defensive styles, Figueiredo started his first official title defense by going down Moreno and ramming him in the body with hard jabs and sweeping hooks. He’s talked more about wanting to be more defensive (like … Kamaru Usman …?) But honestly, I hope we just get the same ride-or-die monster that it gets after five or ten Being a technician gets boring protocol.
David: I’ve never been good at projecting TUF fighters, and that’s why I thought for a long time that Moreno wasn’t all that, aside from being a super personable butcher. It took me a long time to respect that TUF has nothing to do with fighter development, and to the extent that TUF fighters end up having something to offer, it depends on their parentage, support network, and whether they can swim sink. Moreno started swimming early. Indeed, it made him look like victories over Ryan Benoit and Dustin Ortiz also Well. And then there was the fighting between Pettis and Pantoja. Since then he’s just crashed and fought his way to victory until it got him a match with Figgy himself, and now we see Moreno as the real deal. The question is: is he?
Phil: It’s strange for Moreno because so much of his early success seemed so frankly unrepeatable. Weird head kicks and weird submarines, with his only visible physical gift being incredible durability. It wasn’t like Kelvin Gastelum, who also had a lot of faster finishes, because apart from the finishes, there was really nothing to stand out about Moreno: you couldn’t be amazed at his backtake play, his hand speed or his explosion. He was just kind of … winning, in individual moments. Those fights between Pettis and Pantoja seemed to limit his progress, but here he is, a fast-paced, truly functional boxer who can keep up with even the most physical beasts of his division.
What’s at stake?
David: The flyweight itself is always at stake. Nobody has more to lose than an elite flyweight.
Phil: If Moreno wins, will you make the rubber match right away? It would only seem fair.
Where do you want it?
David: Figueiredo is such a fun collection of different kill shots. And he’s violent about everything. There is nothing he cannot strangle or nearly knock unconscious. Instead of following a particular rhythm, Figueiredo tends to be reactive, sometimes stalking, but the key is that he always take the initiative. He is confident enough of his abilities that there is no real area that makes him pause or worry about where the fight may be leading. I think that’s why he slips in and out of styles so easily. Sometimes a counterattack, sometimes a bat, sometimes a grab, everything is the same. It’s all “the street,” as Avon might say. And no fighter is more willing to go into a ball field like Figueiredo.
Phil: Still beatable and thriving by his chin and strength, Figueired has brought up at least one constant criticism I had of him in his last fight to his credit: a lack of direction. So was the battle for Benavidez, which leads me to believe it could be a more permanent long-term trend. Instead of waiting for the shots to come to him, he moved Moreno around the cage and cut it off with a sweep. Then he got bored and went a little crazy, but there we go. One thing I definitely liked was when he stabbed with the more active fighter: He’s a surprisingly good fencer who sits back and counters with his own right jab, which Morenos far exceeds.
David: For Moreno, it’s about making the fight as dirty as possible. If you picked just one of his strokes, nothing would stand out: at least in the context of Best Weapons at Flyweight. Moreno is not a very precise striker, nor is he a particularly strong striker. Still, he continues to win. For Moreno, a broad pace is better than raw threats. Landing a particular shot is less important than landing a sequence of punches. Focusing on a particular sequence of punches is less important than keeping the sequences going. It reminds me of load management in team sports, where instead of spamming the best players, you just roll lines and take over the intensity. Sure, that’s typical of most lighter fighters, but rarely defined that way.
Phil: In some places Moreno looks like a really good boxer: double and triple the jab, slips, body hits, etc. Mechanically, he’s just not the puncher that Figueiredo is, but he makes up for it by being smart and doubly tough: Bei Whatever the depth of his left hand, he tends to sell out the right hand, which in turn makes it even more potent, but also opens him up to counterstrikes (think JDS, but much better). Adding his own right high kick to the equation is something he’s always done, and it seems like it could possibly pick up on Figueredo’s tendency to lean away from gunfire.
Insights from past battles
David: One of the things that really defined their first fight, as I discussed earlier, is how Figueiredo won the war to get in. Figueiredo loves to fight internally when he’s not countering, and for the most part, Figueiredo won the trades when Moreno failed to bring the fight to the ground. When Moreno took the lead, it was because he was able to disrupt Figueiredo’s flow with bodylock takedowns, and the attack offensive that followed was solid bodywork and head-racking. Figueiredo, not known for this, was the one who dictated the pace and controlled the pace against an elite pace fighter. I think there is a sketch for Moreno to win. Force scrambles, hold Fig outside and let the output hum.
Phil: Things that both fighters need to work on, I think. Firstly for Moreno: he can’t go back to the cage that often. Figueiredo is an absolute destroyer there, and Moreno just has to initiate an exchange, even if he is in danger of being countered. He needs to land his jab and one two. The takedowns worked well, he just needs to find a way to turn them into control. For Figueiredo he doesn’t have to be thrown off course (i.e., give up his own jab and just go crazy in exchange), because even his fabulous durability can (and has been) damaged by throwing himself out of position and being clocked completely out of it the balance. He should also realize how good his left kick was at controlling Moreno from a distance and laying down his right hand.
David: Just the usual hyperviolence that comes with two fast, gifted flyweights.
Phil: How much damage Moreno took in the first fight and Figueiredo’s seemingly ever-increasing weight reductions seem to be the two most important.
David: I always want to find ways to confirm my bias against the outsider. If there is how they win, what would it be and how likely could this result manifest itself? Moreno is just so personable and bubbly. But there is a difference between combat toughness and combat durability. Resistance to combat means being able to absorb punishments without losing rhythm. The durability of combat is the ability to absorb punishment in itself. Moreno can have both, but not against Figueiredo. I trust Moreno to fight to the last bell, but I don’t trust Moreno to pose a threat until the last bell. Deveison Figueiredo from TKO, round 5.
Phil: Their last fight was consistently competitive and violent, but it wasn’t close. I gave Moreno a lap and then there was the point deduction. In general, he has to do more to change the fight than Figueiredo. Plus, that fifth round was just pretty worrying for the challenger – it was clear who wanted it more, and I always find it especially worrying when someone with championship ambitions fades out at the last minute. As reduced as it is, I think Figueiredo just wants it more. It also hits about three times as hard. Deveison Figueiredo from TKO, round 4.