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After missing weight and losing the chance to win the UFC flyweight title against Joseph Benavidez on Feb. 29, Deiveson Figueiredo will get another chance to claim 125-pound gold in their rematch at UFC “Fight Island” on July 18.
He promises not to disappoint the fans like the last time, when he knocked out Benavidez in the second round at UFC Fight Night 169 but could not bring the belt home to Brazil due to his issues on the scale.
“Now is a question of honor to me. I fought eight times in UFC and never missed weight,” Figueiredo told Sherdog.com. “Unfortunately that ended up happening in the most important fight of my life. It will never happen again.”
In order to avoid a repeat performance on the scale, Figueiredo totally changed the weight-cutting process.
“I was used to arriving in the fight week weighing between 143 and 145 pounds and losing almost 18 pounds during fight week to reach the flyweight limit,” he said. “Now I totally changed the process with my nutritionist, Lia Correia. We are doing a more aggressive diet. To give you an idea, it’s about three weeks before the fight and I’m weighing 145 pounds. I´ll arrive in Abu Dhabi weighing 132 pounds. I´m carrying less muscle.
“I’m lighter, faster, sharper and also meaner this time.”
As far as the fight itself, the Brazilian is aware that Benavidez will likely bring some new weapons to the table.
“Definitely he underestimated me the first time. Now he already knows how powerful my hands are. I’m sure he will correct his mistakes and try to surprise me, but I'm ready and will be patient. If he wants to stand and trade in the first round, he will be knocked out once again,” Figueiredo said. “But if he is more tactical, I’ll implement my strategy. I’ll observe him in the first round and from the second on, I´ll look to knock him out or submit him. My elbows are sharp.”
Figueiredo claims that improving his wrestling was a major turning point in his UFC career. After two camps at Benavidez’s former training home, Team Alpha Male, Figueiredo decided to return to Belem, Brazil prior to his last fight.
“Training at Team Alpha Male was like a dream that came true,” he said. “Actually, I almost met Benavidez there. He had just left when I arrived. Definitely [Urijah] Faber made me a more technical and strategic fighter, but my wife was pregnant and life in California was very expensive, so I had to return home, where I built up a whole structure in my city for my own training.”
Aware of the importance of wrestling, Figueiredo brought in experienced coach Lenny Lovato Sr., whom he met through friend and mentor Iuri Alcantara. Lovato had already trained fighters who had victories over Benavidez, and his guidance helped a lot in the first fight.
“Unfortunately due to COVID stuff I couldn’t bring him this time, but I have another local wrestling coach who used the same exercises coach Lenny gave me for the first fight,” Figueiredo said.
With Belém being among the six cities with a growing number of COVID-19 cases in Brazil, Figueiredo said that all his team are doing weekly tests and avoiding contact with the public.
“We did the whole camp with no problems,” he said. “I'm sure we will reach ‘Fight Island’ safe.” If he wins the title on July 18, Figueiredo believes that Brandon Moreno will be the next challenger. However, “Daico” also has another opponent in mind.
“Moreno looked pretty impressive in his last two fights. His aggressive style would provide a great fight against mine, but I have to say firsthand for you guys that I´ll challenge [Henry] Cejudo to return from his retirement and face me,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s at 125 or 135 pounds. I would love to welcome him back with a beautiful knockout.”