The UFC is back in action, as the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada plays host to a UFC PPV card. A fun one at that, as Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo returns three weeks after defending his title against Alex Perez to take on Brandon Moreno. A challenger who too fought on the same card, defeating Brandon Royval via an impressive first round finish. It’s rare a fighter returns three weeks after fighting. It’s unprecedented that champion does. What Deiveson Figueiredo is doing is remarkable and should he win, Fighter of the Year is a wrap. However, Moreno is a warrior and if anyone has a shot to dethrone the champ, I’d say he’s arguably the best in the division. It should be a hell of a fight!
UFC 256 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno – I said this last time and I’ll say it again – nobody is beating Deiveson Figueiredo at Flyweight. As long as he can continue to make the weight, the division is his. However, I will that Brandon Moreno presents a formidable challenge. A challenge that could push Figueiredo to the brink. With a cast iron chin and excellent grappling abilities, Moreno is a tough out for anyone. However, his wildness on the feet exposes himself to being cracked. Against the biggest power puncher the Flyweight division has ever seen, the recipe for a finish is there. Even if this hits the mat, Figueiredo has submissions for days. The only problem I could see, is if this fight wanes onto the Championship rounds, Moreno probably will be the fresher fighter. Then again, I have no idea. In the end, my prediction is that it doesn’t get to the Championship rounds, as Figgy adds to his legacy with a TKO victory.
155 lbs.: Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira – I think the notion that Tony Ferguson might be done after the punishment he sustained in the defeat to Justin Gaethje is absurd. I’ll double down on the absurdness and say that he’s going to wipe out the very formidable and surging Charles Oliveira. Will Ferguson get dropped or nearly get finished doing it… probably. However, I fully believe that Ferguson is going to bounce back and finish Oliveira. Once Ferguson gets the elbows going whether it’s standing, on top control or even on his back – the damage is going to turtle up Oliveira at some point. In the end, give me Ferguson via TKO.
115 lbs.: Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba – I’m leaning Virna Jandiroba in this fight, but I actually believe that if Dern can keep this upright – she will easily outpoint Jandiroba. Dern is actually not as bad of striker that people make her out to be. Hell, I think she’s got some decent pop too. Anyways, I lean Jandiroba because Dern has yet to show that she can stuff a takedown. I believe that might be partly for the fight to enter her world on the mat. However, Jandiroba is excellent on the ground and I could see her maintaining enough top control each round to accrue at least two rounds from the judges. Perhaps Dern could catch her – I mean, she’s only one of the most decorated BJJ fighters in the sport. I though will lean on the former Invicta Champion Jandiroba strength on the ground to win this via decision.
185 lbs.: Ronaldo Souza vs. Kevin Holland – I could totally be wrong on this fight, but I have ‘Jacare’ winning. The aspect that gives me pause for concern is that he’s 41 years old and noticeably has slowed down. Kevin Holland is a young buck, who undoubtedly will be quicker. His striking is improving each time, which with an iron chin is going to continue to win him fights. The few issues I’ve seen Holland have is a potential cardio concern and a lackadaisical approach while on the ground. Prior to this four fight win streak, Holland seemingly found a way to put himself in disadvantageous positions. Now, while Holland’s looked great of late, he’s also fought not one top fifteen fighter in this stretch. In fact, in ten UFC fights, only Thiago Santos in his second UFC fight was a ranked opponent. Let’s not get it twisted though, the man has a great frame for the division and is steamrolling most of his competition of late.
I believe though that Jacare will win this fight by mixing in his striking and grappling. The grappling aspect is key, as he’s world’s better than Holland. However, just the energy expended that comes with grappling could be enough to aide Jacare come the later rounds. A tired Holland defending takedowns, which already has been an issue will be the difference. In the end, Jacare turns back the clock and locks in a submission.
265 lbs.: Junior dos Santos vs. Ciryl Gane – The odds on this fight just seem reflective on the idea that JDS has no chin and is on his way out of relevancy. While I can see truth’s within those thoughts, you have to realize that JDS has only fought the best of the best within the division. Literally, the last three losses have come to the number 1,2 and 3 in the Heavyweight division. I understand Ciryl Gane looks the part and I’ll admit I’m ultimately picking him to win, but let’s not overlook the fact that he’s yet to face a top fifteen fighter. In fact, the combined UFC record of his three UFC opponents is 5-6. The aura of Gane being a training partner of Francis Ngannou is waning over him a little strong in my opinion. However, I believe Gane’s well rounded skillset and ability to mix in his ground game with striking is going to aide him in edging this fight out via split decision.
UFC 256 Prelims Card On ESPN+/ESPN2 (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Daniel Pineda vs. Cub Swanson – As much as I like Cub Swanson, the amount of wars he’s been through combined with the ACL tear that cost him from fighting in just over a year has me leaning Daniel Pineda. And that’s not to say Daniel Pineda hasn’t taken damage because forty two professional fights and eight stoppage losses says differently. I just feel that when this fight gets wild, Pineda’s ground game is going to shine bright in this fight. The obvious kryptonite of Swanson, is grapplers with top notch submission abilities. Of his eleven losses, seven come via submission. Given Pineda has eighteen submission victories to his name, you can say he’s pretty good on the mat. In the end, I see Pineda coming out on top – via submission.
155 lbs.: Rafael Fiziev vs. Renato Moicano – While the buzz is on Rafael Fiziev, people forget that Renato Moicano was a legit contender in the Featherweight division not long ago. With ten pounds less to cut, the well rounded Brazilian enters a crowded Lightweight division with a skillset that could propel him into the top ten of the division. Now, Fiziev is an excellent striker, but he doesn’t have the knockout power necessary to disrupt Moicano. In fact, Moicano could very well decide to go toe to toe with Fiziev and it’s a toss up as far as I’m concerned there. However, Moicano is an excellent grappler with a submission game that has already saw seven opponents tap. Make it eight, as I believe Moicano will succeed in implementing his grappling in this fight.
145 lbs.: Billy Quarantillo vs. Gavin Tucker – As much as I think that Gavin Tucker can be successful in this division, it’s Billy Quarantillo that I believe is a contender in the division. While his striking needs work, it’s clearly improving each fight. What Quarantillo has already is an excellent ground game, cardio, an iron chin and some intangibles you can’t teach – heart and the will to win. In this particular fight, Tucker doesn’t have the power to disrupt Quarantillo. He’s got good striking, but I actually favor Quarantillo on the feet. In fact, Quarantillo is better wherever this fight takes place. In the end, Billy Q wins via submission.
115 lbs.: Tecia Torres vs. Sam Hughes – I have a few thoughts about this fight. For one, Tecia Torres is going to win this. Not that any fight is easy, but Torres has literally only lost to top competition. In fact, four of her five losses come to UFC champions. Sam Hughes marks the least experienced fighter Torres has fought since Juliana Lima. My last thought is that with the UFC beginning to shed their roster, is the booking of debuting fighters against veterans a tactic to cut the veteran should they lose? It’s kind of a justifiable out too. Anyway, Torres should avoid the pink slip here, as she wins this fight via decision.
UFC 256 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (7:30 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Peter Barrett vs. Chase Hooper – While I’m not overly confident, Chase Hooper should realistically win this fight. The setback to Alex Caceres was a serious lesson in that experience is key and there are levels to this game. At Hooper’s age, it’s essential to build him up slowly. Peter Barrett is near the bottom of the division, but make no mistake – Hooper’s lack of striking is an opening for him to exploit. It will be in Hooper’s best interest to spam takedowns to get this fight on the mat. In the end, I see Hooper getting back on track with a decision victory.