April 6, 2020

Fight Fixin' - Post-Coronavirus Edition: UFC Flyweight Divisions

By Adam Martin

The UFC, like every other sports entity in the world, is currently in limbo while humankind waits out the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus has destroyed the global economy and has also led to the cancellation of at least three and possibly more UFC cards. With MMA currently in a hiatus, we thought it would be a good time to look through each division and match-make future bouts for when the sport returns. In this edition of Fight Fixin', we take a look at the UFC men's and women's flyweight divisions. Note: Some fighters currently have fights booked, but we will ignore those matchups for this series.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno for vacant title

The UFC is targeting a rematch between Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez for the vacant flyweight belt, but I'm not a huge fan of running that fight back. I get it, Figueiredo missed weight and the knockout came soon after an accidental headbutt. But even before the finish Figueiredo was dominating the fight, and I don't see the rematch playing out any differently. I'd rather see a fresh matchup for the belt, and I think Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno makes more sense. Moreno is coming off of back-to-back wins -- over Kai Kara-France and Jussier Formiga -- and he looks like an elite flyweight. We already know Figueiredo is elite, and at this point in time, I believe these are the two best flyweights in the UFC. I'd love to see the UFC scrap the proposed Figueiredo vs. Benavidez rematch and give Moreno the opportunity to fight for the belt instead.

Joseph Benavidez vs. Alexandre Pantoja

Since I wouldn't give Benavidez another title shot, instead I'd love to see him fight Alexandre Pantoja, one of the best flyweights in the UFC. Pantoja has won four of his last five fights -- including a win over Moreno -- with his lone loss in that stretch coming against Figueiredo in one of the best fights of 2019. I believe Pantoja is right on the cusp of getting a title shot himself, but he needs one more big win before he does so. If Pantoja beats Benavidez, there's no question he should get the next crack at the belt. This would be a really exciting fight and I'd love to see it go down.

Jussier Formiga vs. Askar Askarov

Another intriguing matchup I like would see is the veteran Formiga against up-and-comer Askar Askarov. Formiga has been at the top of the division for a long time, and while he hasn't become a champion yet, he's proven he's the ultimate gatekeeper at 125 lbs. Askarov is an undefeated prospect and has looked really good in the UFC, going undefeated in his first two fights in the promotion. I think it's time Askarov gets a step up in competition, and Formiga is the right opponent for him. If Askarov can beat Formiga we will know he's ready for a title shot.

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanne Calderwood

Joanne Calderwood gets the title shot against Valentina Shevchenko by default since she's the highest-ranked fighter who hasn't fought for the belt yet. This fight was originally set for UFC 251, but it was postponed due to a Shevchenko injury. Whenever the UFC schedule resumes after the coronavirus pandemic clears up, the UFC should just re-book the matchup. Do I expect Calderwood to win? No, I don't. But stylistically her striking skills at least make for a fun fight against Shevchenko, who I expect to reign as a dominant champion at 125 lbs for quite some time, in the same way that Demetrious Johnson ruled the men's flyweight division for years.

Roxanne Modafferi vs. Lauren Murphy

The UFC women's flyweight division isn't too exciting at the moment, but two veterans who have looked really good as of late are Roxanne Modafferi and Lauren Murphy, and I'd like to see them scrap against each other with a potential title shot on the line. It's surprising these two haven't met inside the cage yet, considering both have been fighting for a long time. With both women coming off of nice wins over youngsters Maycee Barber and Andrea Lee, respectively, the time is right to match them up with the winner getting a title shot against the Shevchenko-Calderwood winner.

Molly McCann vs. Maryna Moroz

Rounding out the list of women's flyweight bouts I want to see is a matchup between Molly McCann and Maryna Moroz. Neither of these women will be fighting for the belt anytime soon, but I like this matchup because on paper it would be a really fun striking battle between two women who have no problem biting on their mouthpieces and throwing down. Moroz is coming off of a "Fight of the Night" win over Mayra Beuno Silva, and overall she has a record of 5-3 in the UFC. She's known for her striking skills and has no problem standing and trading with her opponents. McCann, meanwhile, is 3-1 in the UFC and has won her last three fights with her striking skills. I feel like this could be a potential slugfest between two women looking to work their way up the rankings, and would be the perfect fight to put on a future card in Europe.

What do you think of the above matchups in the UFC men's and women's flyweight division? Comment under this article, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMAdamMartin.


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