MMA Ratings Podcast

March 1, 2020

UFC Norfolk: Deiveson Figueiredo Makes A Mess of the UFC Flyweight Division

By Adam Martin

For the past year, the UFC men's flyweight division has been in a holding pattern. Former champion Henry Cejudo defeated longtime champ Demetrious Johnson to win the belt back in August 2018 and defended the belt once, against TJ Dillashaw in January 2019. But when Cejudo won the bantamweight championship last June over Marlon Moraes, it put the flyweight division's title race on hold until Cejudo finally decided to relinquish the belt. That led to the UFC booking Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo in a headlining bout at UFC Norfolk for the vacant flyweight title.

Everything seemed to be set in motion for the relaunching of the UFC flyweight division with a brand new champion until the worst possible situation happened this past Friday when Figueiredo missed weight. That meant that he would no longer be eligible to win the title, and only Benavidez would be fighting for the chance to actually win the belt. If Benavidez won, things would be fine and dandy, but a Figueiredo win would mess things up even more. And of course, in this wacky world that we call the world of mixed martial arts, that's exactly what happened on Saturday night.

In the main event bout, with the vacant flyweight belt in contention for only Benavidez, Figueiredo proved to be the better man, as he leveled Benavidez with a brutal straight right in the second round, knocking his opponent out in devastating fashion. But because Figueiredo was not eligible to win the belt, the UFC flyweight division remains without a champion. When the UFC made Cejudo vacate the belt and created this title bout, this was not a scenario that anyone could have envisioned.

What an absolute mess this is. No one knows what's going to happen next. You'd like to think Figueiredo will get another chance to fight for the vacant championship, but because the UFC can't trust him after missing weight here against Benavidez, you can't blame the UFC if the promotion chooses not to give Figueiredo another chance at the belt. If that's the case, it's hard to say who would fight for the title. The division at this point has very little star power. Benavidez was the only real recognizable name, and now he's been knocked out in brutal fashion.

It would be sad to see the UFC close down the flyweight division, but that is definitely in play now. The promotion thought about doing just that until Cejudo saved it by beating Dillashaw, but now the division is in an even worse spot. There's no champion, there are no stars, and there are very few prospects. You can't blame the UFC if it decides to shut the weight class down. It would suck for the fighters who are still in the division, especially the ones who are too small to fight at 135 lbs, but the UFC runs a business, and from a business point-of-view, 125 lbs doesn't seem viable anymore.

At this point, we will just have to wait and see. Does the UFC does give Figueiredo another chance to win the belt? Do they try to convince Cejudo to move back down in weight? Do they close the division down? We can only guess at this point. But there's no doubt Figueiredo missing weight messed up the UFC's plans. We should've had a new flyweight champion today and more clarity on the weight class. Instead, we have even more of a mess than we ever had before. The worst-case scenario unfolded on Saturday night, and now we can only wonder how the UFC will clean up the mess.

UFC Norfolk
Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo (UFC Men's Flyweight Championship): Deiveson Figueiredo def. Joseph Benavidez via knockout (punches) at 1:54 of Round 2. Figueiredo was ineligible to win the title, due to missing weight.

UFC Fight Night Norfolk: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo took place February 29, 2020 at Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.

Click HERE for more UFC Norfolk Post-Fight Analysis

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