Deiveson Figueiredo delivered some sobering news to Joseph Benavidez: His days as a serious title contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship were likely over.
Figueiredo captured the vacant flyweight crown in his rematch with the San Antonio native, as he put him to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 172 main event on Saturday at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Benavidez, who suffered a second-round technical knockout loss to the Brazilian in February, lost consciousness 4:48 into Round 1 and fell to 0-4 in UFC title fights.
The one-sided nature of the encounter—not necessarily the result itself—was a surprise to many observers. Figueiredo floored the Xtreme Couture representative twice with right hands, shredded him with elbows and ultimately throttled him with a rear-naked choke in the waning moments of Round 1. It was the first submission defeat of Benavidez’s stellar 35-fight career.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night 172, here are four matches that ought to be made:
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez: With Figueiredo having reached the 125-pound summit, the question now becomes whether or not he has the tools and wherewithal to stay there. The 32-year-old finds himself on a four-fight winning streak, in possession of a spectacular 19-1 record and faced with a replenished division that was on life support not long ago. Perez, Brandon Moreno and Askar Askarov figure to be at the top of the list of potential contenders. Team Oyama’s Perez last appeared at UFC 250, where he cut down Jussier Formiga—the only man who holds a win against Figueiredo—with a leg kick in the first round of their June 6 clash. He has rattled off 11 victories across his past 12 outings.
Jack Hermansson vs. Yoel Romero-Uriah Hall winner: Showing no residual effects from his TKO loss to Jared Cannonier some 10 months ago, Hermansson submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum with a heel hook in the first round of their middleweight co-headliner. Gastelum raised the white flag 78 seconds into Round 1. Hermansson ducked into a takedown, withstood a reversal and made the Kings MMA export pay for loitering in his guard, as he isolated his left leg and cranked on the heel to force the tap. The win moved “The Joker” to 8-3 in the UFC and kept him firmly in the Top 10 at 185 pounds. Romero and Hall will square off at UFC Fight Night 175 on Aug. 22.
Askar Askarov vs. Brandon Moreno: Askarov kept his undefeated record intact with a unanimous decision over onetime Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Alexandre Pantoja in their three-round flyweight showcase. All three judges scored it 29-28 for the former Absolute Championship Akhmat titleholder. Askarov pushed a merciless pace in the 15-minute affair, as he closed the distance and hunted takedowns like a madman. Though he was successful on only two of his 15 attempts, he drained Pantoja’s gas tank and waited for fatigue to set in during the second and third rounds. Askarov has posted back-to-back wins since his UFC Fight Night 159 pairing with Moreno resulted in a split draw in September.
Rafael Fiziev vs. Khama Worthy: The promising Fiziev continued to distance himself from TKO defeat to Magomed Mustafaev in his April 2019 promotional debut, as he took a unanimous decision from Marc Diakiese in a three-round lightweight feature. The Tiger Muay Thai standout swept the scorecards with 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 marks from the cageside judges. Fiziev attacked the “Bonecrusher” at all levels, but he was particularly effective with kicks to the legs and body. Diakiese kept it from becoming a runaway despite seeing his modest two-fight winning streak grind to a halt. Worthy last competed at UFC on ESPN 12, where he submitted Luis Pena with a guillotine choke in the third round of their June 27 confrontation. “The Deathstar” has won seven fights in a row, five of them finishes.