Top contenders Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo will square off for the UFC flyweight title during the main event of UFC Fight Night 169 in Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday night.
Neither fighter has held a UFC title before, though Benevidez twice fought for the flyweight championship, losing to Demetrious Johnson in 2012 and 2013.
Benavidez Took Long Road Back to Title Shot
Henry Cejudo vacated the flyweight title in December, choosing instead to focus on defending the bantamweight crown. That opened the door for Saturday’s fight, a rare UFC title clash that isn’t appearing on pay-per-view.
The 35-year-old Benavidez (28-5) has waited patiently for another shot at the title. He has compiled a 9-1 mark in the UFC since that second loss to Johnson, a run that includes a split decision win over Cejudo. While he never got a third shot at Johnson, he’s now back in a championship fight and ready to finally finish the job.
“That was a hard time, starting with the second loss to Demetrious,” Benavidez told ESPN. “I knew I had to just keep believing, never lose sight of my purpose. As a fighter, you need to be delusional in a way. It keeps you going.”
Benavidez says he kept his focus on the belt throughout his career, choosing to let his fighting do the talking.
“That is one of the things that I’m proudest of in this long wait for a title fight,” Benavidez told ESPN. “I never compromised my integrity by playing a character. I didn’t tweet anybody something crazy. I was just myself, kept winning and stayed ready.”
Figueiredo Says Fight Won’t Go Two Rounds
Surprisingly, Figueiredo (17-1) has never fought in a UFC title bout, despite going 6-1 since joining the promotion in 2017. His only career loss came to Jussier Formiga by decision last March. Wins over Alexandre Pantoja and Tim Elliott put him back near the top of the flyweight heap, and earned him his spot in Saturday’s championship fight.
The 32-year-old Brazilian says he plans to finish Benavidez early on Saturday, not only earning the title, but also ending Benavidez’s career in the process.
“This fight won’t even go two full rounds, believe me,” Figueiredo told BJPenn.com. “I’ll finish him by the end of the second round. Benavidez will retire after I do that to him. I’m going to break him down. He can’t do anything against me.”
UFC Fight Night 169 Odds
- Joseph Benavidez (-152) vs. Deiveson Figueiredo (+130)
- Felicia Spencer (-750) vs. Zarah Fairn dos Santos (+540)
- Ion Cutelaba (+200) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (-245)
- Megan Anderson (-240) vs. Norma Dumont Viana (+198)
- Grant Dawson (-460) vs. Darrick Minner (+360)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Benavidez enters the fight as a slight -152 favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook. But Figueiredo (+130) has reason to be confident. Benavidez has a habit of taking damage early, and Figueiredo, who is an extremely dangerous finisher even at 125 pounds, has the skills to exploit that issue. That power gives him the ability to end the fight in a hurry, while Benavidez’s route to victory is more likely to involve grinding out a win by decision against an elite opponent like Figueiredo.
The UFC Fight Night 169 card also includes a women’s featherweight bout between Felicial Spencer (-750) and Zarah Fairn dos Santos (+540), as well as a light heavyweight encounter between Magomed Ankalaev (-245) and Ion Cutelaba (+200).