Well, that looks like that. The UFC flyweight division has long been on thin ice, but it’s never been in more danger than now. The ironic thing is that a flyweight has likely ended the lightest men’s division on the roster by missing weight. That’s the situation that Deiveson Figueredo had created by knocking out Joseph Benavidez.
Figueredo became only the fourth fighter to miss weight for a title fight when doctors told him to stop cutting. This meant that only Benavidez was eligible to win the title in the main event of UFC Norfolk. After the UFC stripped Henry Cejudo, the ramifications were serious.
Now it looks like it could be over after Figueredo knocked out Benavidez in the second round of their fight. The title remains vacant. If the UFC wants to eliminate the division then they’re never going to have a better opportunity.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 1, 2020
Benavidez came into this fight as a slight favorite. It was clear from the offset how much this one meant to him. It’s the third time he’s fought for a title and fallen short. The fight was fought at a furious pace for as long as it lasted. After going to the ground, Figueredo looked for an inverted triangle choke before transitioning to an armbar.
It was very tight but somehow Benavidez managed to hang on and escape. The roars from the crowd said it all because it was very exciting to watch. But the final minute ended with Benavidez launching haymakers at Figueredo. The round was very close.
Brutal ko ufc dieveson figueiredo vs Joseph benavidez flyweights new pic.twitter.com/VXus2VSjdi
— Fightgame (@futurefights360) March 1, 2020
The second round started off just as frenzied. Figueredo stunned Benavidez with a big right hand. But the former WEC contender kept coming. However, his headfirst approach has cost him before and so it proved here. The two men slammed against each other and a massive cut opened on Benavidez’s forehead.
That’s when Figueredo sent a straight right down the middle and put Benavidez on his back. A couple of hammer fists to finish him off and this fight was over. It was a brilliant finish but a hard one for Benavidez and his camp to take. Figueredo looked delighted to get the knockout, even though he couldn’t win the title.
— Jimmy Clarke (@JimmyClarke__) March 1, 2020
But the big question is what’s next for flyweight? Henry Cejudo tweeted afterward, ‘And still.’ But he’s not keeping his old title whether he likes it or not. There is no other clearcut contender in the division now either for Figueredo to fight for the title. It’s also difficult to sell a rematch with the result so convincing in this one.
Meanwhile, Figueredo himself isn’t the most marketable of champions. Yes, he has knockout power but he doesn’t speak English. The plight of flyweight is very serious right now. If the UFC wants to scrap it, then now is the time. The irony is that this was an electric fight from start to finish, ending with a brutal finish. That’s what MMA fans want, right?
It would be sad to see the likes of Benavidez depart the UFC if they do decide to get rid of the division. But sadly, it just hasn’t taken off in the US. Unlike in Asia where ONE and RIZIN have had much more success. In short, you have to know your market and the US doesn’t want small dudes jumping around a cage.