Breaking: It will be flyweight title night at UFC 255 on Nov. 21, per Dana White (@danawhite).
Deiveson Figuiredo (@Daico_Deiveson) vs. Cody Garbrandt (@Cody_Nolove) and Valentina Shevchenko (@BulletValentina) vs. Jennifer Maia (@jennimaiaufc). More soon on @ESPN. — Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) August 7, 2020
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All bets are off when it comes to the Ultimate Fighting Championship title picture in 2020.
The news first broke from ESPN on Friday, when the outlet announced per UFC President Dana White that UFC 255 would be scheduled for Nov. 21. There is no location or venue set at the moment, but twin flyweight title fights will appear on the marquee billing. Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) will be squaring off with divisional newcomer Cody Garbrandt (12-3), while Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) will defend her throne against Jennifer Maia (18-6-1). Both challengers present immediate questions about their weight, as Garbrandt has never competed at 125 pounds, while Maia has missed weight in two of her last three outings.
Figueiredo finally won the flyweight crown when he put Joseph Benavidez to sleep after a dominant performance in their July rematch. The first time they met in February, the Brazilian missed weight so he was unable to earn the title after his knockout victory. The second pairing, Figueiredo hit the proper marks and decimated Benavidez to earn the strap. By finishing Benavidez that second time, “Deus da Guerra” tied his vanquished opponent for the second-most stoppage wins in divisional history with six. Demetrious Johnson holds that top spot with seven, although “Mighty Mouse” needed 15 wins to tally that many finishes, while Figueiredo reached his total after eight victories.
Instead of a rightful contender in the division, Garbrandt will be the second bantamweight titlist to drop down to skip the line and fight for the flyweight belt in recent memory. While other more deserving challengers including Brandon Moreno, Askar Askarov and Alex Perez compete at 125 pounds regularly and all hold longer unbeaten streaks, the promotion has elected to grant “No Love” a title shot from a single win at bantamweight. The triumph, a devastating knockout over Raphael Assuncao, snapped a three-fight knockout skid at the hands of T.J. Dillashaw – a man who also dropped down to flyweight to vie for the belt – and Pedro Munhoz. Garbrandt’s victory over Assuncao was his first in over three years.
Since dropping down to 125 pounds, Shevchenko has not tasted defeat let alone lose more than a single round across five dominant performances. Shevchenko claimed the inaugural title by handling Joanna Jedrzejczyk – although the former strawweight queen managed to win one round of five – and has defended it without issue against Jessica Eye, Liz Carmouche and Katlyn Chookagian. With five wins in five bouts, Shevchenko is tied with Gillian Robertson as the winningest fighter in the short history of the UFC’s women’s flyweight division.
Somewhat similar to Garbrandt, Maia will be getting a title shot off a lone stoppage win. Joanne Calderwood was slated to face Shevchenko, but when the champ suffered an injury, “Jojo” decided to take another fight to stay active. Maia finished her in the first round with an armbar to transfer the title shot to the Brazilian, and in doing so snapped an eight-fight decision streak. In a prior losing effort to Chookagian, Maia came in over a pound heavy, while ahead of her decision victory against Roxanne Modafferi, the Invicta Fighting Championships flyweight champ was three pounds above the limit.