The UFC have announced their headliners for UFC 255 as both men’s and women’s flyweight titles will be defended.
Deiveson Figueiredo, who won the belt with a first-round knockout over Joseph Benavidez on Fight Island last month, will make the first defence of his belt against former Bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt who will drop down a division to take the fight. In the women’s division champion Valentina Shevchenko will defend her belt against Jennifer Maia, who earned her shot with a first round submission win over Joanne Calderwood last weekend.
The event is scheduled for November 21st 2020 and while the location isn’t yet official, it’s likely to take place on Fight Island since Figueiredo and Shevchenko both live outside of the USA and may face issues getting into the country if COVID-19 is still a problem then.
Garbrandt is gifted this title shot after knocking out Raphael Assuncao in his last fight to bring to an end a three-fight losing streak in which he was knocked out every time. Following Figuereido’s win over Benavidez, Garbrandt made public his wish to drop down a division and fight for the flyweight belt. He messaged Dana White telling him his weight, and White clearly enjoys the thought of these two heavy handed punchers going to war.
The 125lbs division is struggling for star power following the retirement of Henry Cejudo earlier this year and trade of Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship two years ago. Joseph Benavidez’s title ambitions are surely done now following four failed attempts while Brandon Moreno still doesn’t have a reputation that will get fans watching a division that was very close to being completely liquidated from the UFC.
Garbrandt’s popularity and reputation for exciting fights will get eyes on the division and gives Figueiredo the chance to prove he is a legitimate champion, something fans will get behind. This fight is almost guaranteed to not go the distance but it’s hard to predict without seeing how Garbrandt looks after cutting the extra 10lbs. Figueiredo hits very hard though and we’ve seen what happens if ‘No Love’ gets his chin touched, so expect fireworks.
Valentina Shevchenko on the other hand is in the other side of this argument. She has proved time and time again that she is the best 125lber in the world and has almost cleaned out a division that was put together specifically for her. She was due to fight Joanne Calderwood but after nearly a year being inactive, Calderwood decided to step in on short-notice to fight Jennifer Maia. It has cost her the title shot though as she was submitted via armbar in Round 1 by the Brazilian.
Maia is a great fighter with excellent jiu-jitsu skills, but her striking is nowhere comparable to that of Shevchenko. The Kyrgyzstani fighter is good enough to pretty much end this fight whenever she wants and I expect she’ll get a couple of rounds under her belt before turning up the pressure and earning a knockout win.