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|UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2
|UFC Fight Island Facility, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
|Saturday, July 18, 6PM EST
|How to watch
|Watch on ESPN+ here!
A new flyweight champion will (hopefully) be crowned once and for all this Saturday night as Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez go head-to-head once again in a rematch of their February 29 bout.
Deiveson Figueiredo defeated Joseph Benavidez back in February by second-round TKO but was ineligible to win the title (left vacant by Henry Cejudo) due to missing championship weight by 2.5 pounds.
The rematch was in jeopardy just last week as Figueiredo, who openly admitted to battling through COVID-19 earlier in the year, tested positive for the virus once again. Luckily for the fighter and the UFC, a re-test determined that he had falsely tested positive.
The co-main event will see a battle between two top-ten middleweights as former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum takes on Jack Hermansson.
All odds taken from the DraftKings sportsbook
As mentioned earlier, this is a rematch. An immediate rematch. After beating Alexandre Pantoja and Tim Elliott in back-to-back fights, Deiveson Figueiredo was matched up against Joseph Benavidez in a flyweight title match for the championship left vacated by Henry Cejudo’s retirement. Figueiredo would beat Benavidez via second-round TKO but, unfortunately for Figueiredo, he missed weight by 2.5 pounds, making him ineligible to win the title. And so here we are.
Standing at 5 ft. 5 in. tall, “Daico” has a reach of 68 inches. The Brazilian-born fighter trains out of Florida with American Top Team. He has been fighting since 2012 and is ranked as the number-one flyweight in the world. He is a former Brazilian Northeast jiu-jitsu champion.
Joseph Benavidez is the last man to beat former flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo. He did so via split-decision in 2016. He then lost to Sergio Pettis but bounced back by winning three straight fights, including a win over Jussier Formiga. As mentioned earlier, he lost the fight for the vacant title versus Figueiredo but had he won, he would have been named champion as he did make weight for the fight.
Standing at 5 ft. 4 in. tall, Benavidez will be one-inch shorter than his opponent. He will also be at a three-inch reach disadvantage in the bout. A former member of Team Alpha Male, Benavidez now trains with Xtreme Couture and has a brown prajied in muay thai under Duane Ludwig. Fighting professionally since 2006, he is ranked just below Figueiredo in the rankings as the second-best flyweight in the UFC.
Our Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo via TKO (-230)
Jack Hermansson has been steadily climbing the middleweight rankings over the past two years, earning wins over the likes of Gerald Meerschaert and David Branch. His big break, so to speak, in the division came when he stepped in for an injured Yoel Romero in order to take on MMA legend Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Hermansson would impressively beat Souza via unanimous decision last April. Hermansson’s train was derailed in his last fight however when he suffered a TKO loss to another rising star – Jared Cannonier – in the second round of their bout.
Hermansson was originally expected to fight former champion, Chris Weidman, in early May but the bout was canceled.
The Swedish-born fighter stands at 6 ft. 1 in. tall and has a reach of 77.5 inches – big advantages for the middleweight. Fighting since 2010, Hermansson now trains out of Oslo, Norway with his team at the Frontline Academy. At 32-years-old, Hermansson is ranked as the sixth-best UFC middleweight.
The former middleweight title challenger Kelvin Gastelum currently finds himself amidst the first losing streak of his career. After two big wins over former champion Michael Bisping and Ronaldo Souza, Gastelum was put up against Israel Adesanya to fight for the interim middleweight championship. In what was later declared the Fight of the Year, Gastelum would lose the fight via unanimous decision.
In his next bout, taking place last November at UFC 244, he would welcome Darren Till to the middleweight division. In what was considered a big upset, Gastelum would drop the fight to Till, this time by split-decision.
Standing at 5 ft. 9 in., Gastelum in one of the shortest in the division. He will be at a four-inch reach disadvantage. He will also suffer from a six-inch disadvantage in the reach department. But you can’t write him off. Fighting since 2010, Gastelum has a Black Belt in 10th Planet jiu-jitsu under Brian Beaumont. He currently trains out of Arizona with Kings MMA and Yuma United MMA. The former welterweight, southpaw fighter is currently ranked as the number-seven UFC middleweight.
Our Pick: Kelvin Gastelum via TKO (-125)
After a three-fight skid that included a loss to Dan Hooker, Marc Diakiese has rebounded well, winning his next two fights back-to-back. Both of those fights took place in 2019. Diakiese defeated Joseph Duffy in March and went on to beat Lando Vannata in September – both fights were won by unanimous decision.
Diakiese will have both a two-inch height advantage and a 4.5-inch reach advantage over Rafael Fiziev in this bout. At 27-years-old, Diakiese has been fighting since 2010 and currently trains with American Top Team where he holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The British-born fighter is on the cusp of cracking the division’s top-15.
Saturday night will be Rafael Fiziev’s third appearance in the UFC, where he has gone 1-1. The Kyrgyzstani fighter lost his UFC debut last April, where he was knocked out by Magomed Mustafaev. It was his first professional loss. He bounced back in his last fight, though, last October, defeating Alex White via unanimous decision.
Fiziev fights and trains out of Thailand with the world-famous Tiger Muay Thai gym. He stands at 5 ft. 8 in. tall and has a reach of 71.5 inches. He is a member of the Kyrgyzstani police force when not fighting professionally.
Our Pick: Marc Diakiese via decision (-155)
Starting her UFC career on back-to-back defeats against Joanne Calderwood and Molly McCann, Ariane Lipski earned her first win under the UFC banner last November when she defeated Isabela de Padua. Lipski won the bout despite Padua missing weight and having a weight advantage of more than five pounds.
At 5 ft. 6 in. tall, the Brazilian fighter has a reach of 67 inches. The “Violence Queen”, known for her striking, trains out of Curitiba, Brazil with the Rasthai Temple. She trains under former UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg. She has been fighting professionally since 2013 and is a former KSW women’s flyweight champion.
One could argue that Luana Carolina has been jonesing for a fight. After appearing, and winning, on Dana White’s Contender Series, Carolina made her debut of the promotion at UFC 237 last May against Priscila Cachoeira. She won the bout via unanimous decision. Since then, Carolina has had four fights canceled – including this fight against Lipski twice.
Carolina, also from Brazil, stands equal to Lipski at 5 ft. 6 in. and comes into this fight with a two-inch reach advantage over her opponent. She fights out of Sao Paulo and trains with the Thai Unit team. The 27-year-old has not lost a fight since her professional debut in 2015.
Our Pick: Luana Carolina via decision (-112)
Alexandre Pantoja has been a roster member of the UFC since 2017 after taking part in the Ultimate Fighter season 24. He is 6-2 in the promotion. After a solid run, winning three fights in a row, including a win over former title challenger Wilson Reis, Pantoja was beaten by one of this event’s main eventers, Deiveson Figueiredo, last July. He lost by unanimous decision. He did bounce back in a big way last December when he defeated Matt Schnell with a huge right hand in the first round of their fight.
The Brazilian-born “Cannibal” stands at 5 ft. 5 in. tall and has a reach of 68 inches. The 30-year-old trains out of his home country with the Nova Uniao team with fighters such as Jose Aldo. He is currently ranked as the UFC’s fourth-best flyweight in the division.
Askar Askarov is undefeated as a professional fighter and has gone 1-0-1 during his time in the UFC. He made his debut for the promotion last September, taking on Brandon Moreno. The bout was fought to a split-decision draw. Askarov made sure to leave a lasting impact in his next fight when he took on Tim Elliott this past January at UFC 246. We won the fight handily by unanimous decision.
The Russian-born fighter stands one-inch taller than his opponent in this bout but will be at a one-inch reach disadvantage. He is three years younger than Pantoja. Fighting out of his home country, he trains with the Berkut Fight Club. He is the seventh-ranked UFC flyweight.
Our Pick: Askar Askarov via TKO (+160)
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