Team Alpha Male’s Deiveson Figueiredo says he ‘owes’ Joseph Benavidez a fight
The undefeated Brazilian flyweight was slated to face Benavidez on Jan. 26, before the promotion eventually decided to cancel UFC 233. Matchmakers tried to move the contest to the Jan. 19 card in Brooklyn, but it would be too soon for Figueiredo.
Benavidez went on to face — and defeat — Dustin Ortiz at UFC Brooklyn, making that two wins in a row for him, but Figueiredo told MMA Fighting he still feels they should meet in the Octagon one day.
”I owe Benavidez a fight, and I hope it happens,” said Figueiredo, who has been training at Team Alpha Male — Benavidez’s former team in California — for almost a year. “If we met in the gym we would slug it out. Nothing personal, but we would break each other in training [laughs].”
“God of War” feels like an improved fighter since joining the camp prior to his knockout victory over John Moraga in August, giving credit to jiu-jitsu coach Fabio Prado and Alpha Male leader Urijah Faber. Feeling “part of the family” in the gym, Figueiredo explains the main difference in his game since moving to California.
”I disappointed in my second UFC fight because my opponent was a wrestler and he kept taking me down,” Figueiredo said, citing his decision win over Jarred Brooks. At the time, the Brazilian thought he had lost the bout.
”I wanted to finish him and went for a guillotine instead of defending the takedown, and being here helped me improve my game a lot. I have added more weapons to my game now.”
Figueiredo believes he has learned to balance aggressiveness with the perfect strategy to win fights, and vows to use that at Saturday night’s UFC Nashville, when he faces top-ranked flyweight Jussier Formiga.
“Most of the Brazilians don’t like to fight each other, they would rather fight ‘gringos’, but it’s narrowing down now,” Figueiredo said. “I’m among the five best of the division and my goal is to fight for the belt, so there’s no other option except eliminating the heads that get on my way. For someone who’s hungry and has a goal to achieve, this is a great opportunity. I’m going there to knock him out.
”I have a jiu-jiu-jitsu background, but I use it more for defense because my fighting style is aggressive, to knock people out. If he tries to take me down, I’ll stop him with my ground and pound. If he stands in front of me, I’ll knock him out. I don’t see this fight going past the second round.”
Figueiredo believes he should “definitely” earn a shot at the UFC flyweight championship if he improves to 16-0 on Saturday, and he plans to leave no doubts by knocking out the jiu-jitsu specialist.
Also, he hopes that a KO convinces UFC president Dana White to keep the flyweight division going, even though he plans on moving up to bantamweight in the future as well.
”I’m undefeated and my fights always end by knockout, so I deserve a chance to fight for the belt,” Figueiredo said. “People say that they will end the division, but my goal is to make it stay. My goal is to show Dana White that this weight class has the potential to stay in the UFC and put on a show on my fights. I don’t want this division to go away until I get that belt.”
”My goal is to win the title at 125 and then move up to 135,” he added. “That’s my goal, so I hope they don’t close the division before I get that belt.”
Pancrase, Shooto Brazil champions among additions to PFL 2019 roster
Some Brazilian names have been added to the 2019 season of the Professional Fighters League, multiple sources told MMA Fighting.
The upcoming season of the North American company will include lightweights Ronys Torres and Carlos Eduardo Silva and welterweight Glaico Franca. Freddy Assuncao, who was expected to fight for PFL in 2018, will finally make his debut this year as a featherweight.
UFC veteran Torres (37-6) last fought in August, when he claimed the Shooto Brazil 160-pound championship with a submission victory over Bruno Rodrigues. It was his return to Brazilian soil after making it to the Road FC million-dollar lightweight tournament semifinal in 2018.
Franca (19-5) was the Ultimate Fighter Brazil lightweight winner in 2015, with four straight rear-naked choke finishes. “Nego” won six in a row since leaving the UFC, capped off by a thrilling fourth-round finish over Takashi Sato to win the Pancrase welterweight belt last July.
Silva (11-1) hasn’t been active lately. The Nova Uniao fighter entered a cage for the last time in Nov. 2017, when he captured the Shooto Brazil 165-pound belt with a first-round knockout over Felipe Douglas. “Carlao” will make his PFL debut looking for his sixth win in a row.
Assuncao (10-1), twin brother of UFC bantamweight Raphael Assuncao, moved up to lightweight to win the Titan FC championship with a win over MMA veteran Gesias Cavalcante in Aug. 2016, but has battled injuries since then. He will return to 145 pounds to compete for PFL in 2019.
The updated PFL roster can be seen below.
Julia Budd to defend Bellator featherweight title vs. Olga Rubin on July 12
Julia Budd’s next title defense will be against an unbeaten challenger.
A Bellator featherweight championship bout between Budd and Olga Rubin (6-0) was announced during Saturday’s Bellator 218 broadcast for an upcoming July 12 event at Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla.
Budd (12-2) has recorded back-to-back defenses of her featherweight title since winning a vacant belt with a fourth-round TKO of Marloes Coenen two years ago. She then went on to defeat Arlene Blencowe by split decision and Talita Nogueira by third-round TKO. The 35-year-old Canadian is 6-0 inside the Bellator cage.
Someone’s unblemished Bellator record is going to have to go, as Rubin is also unbeaten in four appearances for the promotion. She most recently defeated Iony Razafiarison at Bellator 217 in February via unanimous decision.
UFC Nashville Results: Thompson vs. Pettis
MMA Fighting has UFC Nashville results of the Thompson vs. Pettis event March 23 from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., plus live blogs of the top fights, and live UFC Nashville Twitter updates.
Check out UFC Nashville results below.
Main card (ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)
Undercard (ESPN+ at 5 p.m. ET)
For rising star Maycee Barber, the future starts now
In a sport as loud as mixed martial arts, it is often difficult to separate the signal from the noise. This dissociation is made all the more difficult by the small sample sizes at play. A 30-second knockout, for instance, could be the sign of a brilliant performance by one fighter, a spectacular defensive lapse from the other, a matchmaking mistake, or a combination of all three. Oftentimes, there is no definitive conclusion to be had in the moment, just pure conjecture.
That’s where we are right now with Maycee Barber, a promising strawweight-turned-flyweight who is still two months shy of her 21st birthday, yet who has been publicly embraced by UFC brass and who has stated a goal of becoming the youngest UFC champion in history. The current records is held by Jon Jones, who was 23 years, 8 months old when he ascended the throne in 2011.
For Barber, there is time to get there and there is much to like so far. In six professional fights, she’s undefeated, and has only been to a decision once. She has a lifetime of martial arts experience to fall back on. She is both talented and mission-focused.
In her Octagon debut last November, Barber showed a subtle maturity to her game that belied her age. While many young fighters lose focus while experiencing the bright lights for the first time, Barber flashed many of the gifts that built her rapid rise up the pro ranks. She has speed and footwork. Slicing elbows. A powerful clinch. And finishing instinct. When she cut open her opponent Hannah Cifers, Barber sensed a finish and turned up the pressure, overwhelming Cifers with ground strikes. The finish was quite similar to her Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series stoppage TKO that earned her a place in the promotion. Her skills have looked legitimate.
That’s not surprising, given her path. Training in karate since the age of 3, and with parents also involved in martial arts as the family business, Barber comes from what seems to be an advantageous lineage. And while it’s perfectly acceptable to find excitement in her rise, it should also come with some caution.
Her origin story isn’t so far different than that of Sage Northcutt, for example. The former UFC fighter was also a lifelong martial artist who debuted in the organization at an early age, just 19. Northcutt went 6-2 in the UFC before departing the organization, so he wasn’t a washout by any stretch, but he did fall short of the gigantic expectations set for him ahead of his arrival. He never fought a ranked opponent, never approached a title shot, never moved past the “featured attraction” stage. At 23, he still has plenty of time to write a legacy, but it’s worth noting that it is difficult to reach greatness in this sport, let alone at an age where many of your peers are still partying in college or starting their first real jobs.
Still, Barber has been all but anointed. For one thing, her family christened her with the nickname “The Future.” For another, UFC president Dana White recently singled her out as a future star, something Barber giddily accepted as a vote of confidence.
“I was super excited,” she said during fight week. “That’s an honor. Even though I’m confident, that’s where I deserve to be, that’s where I need to be, darn right that’s where I am. But that’s a huge honor to have the top person in the UFC mention your name in a sit-down with Megan Olivi and give you credit and notoriety, I couldn’t ask for a better start to my week.”
At UFC Nashville, Barber will be facing JJ Aldrich, a fighter who has reeled off three straight victories, including one over Polyana Viana, who just last year looked to be a future title contender. In other words, Aldrich has faced down this kind of matchup before, which makes it a valuable measuring stick for Barber.
Should she win, don’t be surprised to see Barber crash the divisional rankings next week. Which would also mean that her ambitious goal is actually within reach. Still, there would be a long way to go between now and then. Fighters like Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood stand ahead of her, and champ Valentina Shevchenko rules over the division. The odds are against Barber accomplishing her mission, but every time out, we’ll start to get clues on just how reachable it is.
For now, she remains unbowed. Youth will do that for you. Talent will, too. Throw in an undefeated record, and it’s understandable why she exudes confidence. Barber seems to bask in the spotlight and attention, and she isn’t backing away from the outsized expectations. Asked this week why she has been so comfortable putting such weight on her shoulders, she couldn’t stop a smile from escaping.
“Pressure builds diamonds,” she said. “I’m a diamond.”