The Ultimate Fighting Championship had planned to crown a new flyweight champion on Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia, but the UFC 125-pound title remains vacant.
Top contender Joseph Benavidez and No. 3 ranked Deiveson Figueiredo were set to compete for the vacant title in the UFC on ESPN+ 27 main event but Figueiredo missed with during Friday’s weigh-ins and was ineligible to win the championship. The fight went on with on Benavidez eligible to walk away with UFC gold.
It was Benavidez’ third time fighting for a UFC title and was hoping the third time was a charm. Instead, Figueiredo finished Benavidez in the second round and the title remained vacant.
Benavidez kept a high pace throughout the fight but found himself in a dangerous position early in the opening round. After catching a kick, Figueiredo took Benavidez down and isolated an arm. Benavidez rolled in an effort to escape the arm bar attempt and rolled again. Finally, Benavidez freed himself and got back to his feet. Benavidez returned to pressuring Figueiredo and connected with clean shots.
In the second frame, Benavidez continued with his game plan. He stepped into the pocket with combinations. During an exchange, the two accidentally clashed heads opening up a gash on Benavidez’ forehead. Seconds later, Figueiredo connected cleanly with a right hand that sent Benavidez crashing to the canvas. Figueiredo swooped in and delivered hammer fists until the referee intervened.
“I’m so sorry for not making weight, but I told you, everybody, I’m going to give you a big show,” said Figueiredo.
“I’m here to fight. I’m here to fight for the people. I’m here to fight for the people of the world. The belt is coming. I can relax about that. I’m going to be the next UFC flyweight champion. There’s no doubt about it. Next time, I’ll make the weight and the belt is going to be on my waist.”
The fight card featured two women’s featherweight bouts that had title shot implications for the winners. Former Invicta FC champions Felicia Spencer and Megan Anderson both scored first-round finishes, but with a win over Anderson last May, Spencer emerged as the top contender to Amanda Nunes‘ belt on Saturday.
Spencer faced Zarah Fairn and the fight quickly got one-sided once it hit the ground. Fairn had success with her jab in the early going, but was out of her element when taken down. Spencer secured a takedown and immediately mounted Fairn. She delivered devastating elbows and punches while Fairn desperately tried to cover up. After several strikes landed, the referee stepped in to stop it.
“I always just want to take what I can get and it ended up on the ground against which I train. I wanted to show a different side of me, a little bit more violent side, so I hope everyone was happy with that,” said Spencer following the win.
Now on a two-fight winning streak and a win over Anderson on her record, Spencer believes she’s next in line to face Nunes next. The lone loss on Spencer’s record is to former champion Cris Cyborg.
“I think it puts me in a perfect spot (to face Nunes next),” she said.
Anderson made her case that she should be the one facing Nunes next by scoring a first-round knockout against Norma Dumont. Dumont came out confident and pressured Anderson. She tied the Australian up along the cage but was unable to secure a takedown. After separating, Anderson stepped in with a right hand that sent Dumont crumbling to the canvas. The referee immediately stepped in to stop the fight.
“It’s definitely taken me a while to get to where I need to to be able to put on these performances. This is what I knew I was capable of the entire time, so I’m happy to be able to come out here and pitch a shutout,” said Anderson following the knockout win.
UFC Fight Night: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo Full Results:
– Benavidez def. Joseph Benavidez by TKO (punches) at 1:54, R2
– Felicia Spencer def. Zarah Fairn by TKO (punches and elbows) at 3:37, R1
– Magomed Ankalaev def. Ion Cuțelaba by KO at 0:38, R1
– Megan Anderson def. Norma Dumont Viana by KO (punch) at 3:31, R1
– Grant Dawson def. Darrick Minner by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:38, R2
– Kyler Phillips def. Gabriel Silva by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
– Brendan Allen def. Tom Breese by TKO (elbows and punches) at 4:47, R1
– Marcin Tybura def. Sergey Spivak by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
– Luis Peña def. Steve Garcia by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
– Jordan Griffin def. T.J. Brown by submission (guillotine choke) at , 3:38, R2
– Spike Carlyle def. Aalon Cruz by TKO (elbows and punches) at 1:25, R1
– Sean Brady def. Ismail Naurdiev by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)