UFC Norfolk Report: Figueiredo knocks out Benavidez, title vacant

Eric Marcotte's report on the UFC's Fight Night card from Norfolk with Joseph Benavidez meeting Deiveson Figueiredo in the main event with the flyweight title vacant.

UFC Norfolk Report: Deiveson Figueiredo knocks out Joseph Benavidez in the Second Round, Flyweight Title Vacated

By: Eric Marcotte 

On Saturday night the UFC held their second card at the Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. The event was to be headlined by a fight between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant UFC flyweight championship. In December of 2019, it was announced that the reigning flyweight champion, Henry Cejudo, would be stripped of his title, and Benavidez and Figueiredo would fight to determine the new champion of the division. However, Figueiredo missed championship weight for this fight by 2.5lbs, thus making him ineligible to win the title. As a result, the title was only on the line for Benavidez, and if Figueiredo were to win, the title would be vacated.

Joseph Benavidez has been a top-ranked contender at flyweight since the inception of the division, but a pair of losses to then-champion, Demetrious Johnson, kept Benavidez away from another title opportunity for nearly seven years. Since his last loss to Johnson, Benavidez has gone 9-1 in the division, which included a win over Henry Cejudo. Figueiredo has been one of the most consistently entertaining flyweight fighters since debuting in the UFC in 2017, compiling a 6-1 record in the promotion.

Commentary for the card was provided by Brendan Fitzgerald alongside UFC Hall of Famer, Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Megan Anderson and Jordan Griffin. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Gabriel Silva and Kyler Phillips. The reported attendance for the event was 7,098, with a gate of $ 402,958.

QUICK RESULTS:

*Sean Brady def. Ismail Naurdiev by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

*Spike Carlyle def. Aalon Cruz by TKO at 1:25 of Round 1

*Jordan Griffin def. T.J. Brown by guillotine choke at 3:38 of Round 2

*Luis Pena def. Steve Garcia by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Marcin Tybura def. Sergey Spivak by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

*Brendan Allen def. Tom Breese by TKO at 4:12 of Round 1

*Kyler Phillips def. Gabriel Silva by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Grant Dawson def. Darrick Minner by rear-naked choke at 1:38 of Round 2

*Megan Anderson def. Norma Dumont by KO at 3:31 of Round 1

*Magomed Ankalaev def. Ion Cutelaba by TKO at 0:31 of Round 1

*Felicia Spencer def. Zarah Fairn by TKO at 3:37 of Round 1

*Deiveson Figueiredo def. Joseph Benavidez by TKO at 1:54 of Round 2

SEAN BRADY (11-0, 170) VS ISMAIL NAURDIEV (19-3, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT

Naurdiev found a lot of success with his kicks to the body early. There was a point where Brady caught one of Naurdiev’s kicks, and Naurdiev just started to throw these vicious strikes from that position that forced Brady to disengage. This round was all Naurdiev backing Brady down while using his kicks to control the distance, and he definitely won the first five minutes.

Brady opened up the second round with a pair of low kicks and succeeded in taking Naurdiev down against the cage. This round was all Brady, who controlled the action with his wrestling, staying busy with ground and pound strikes, and he constantly looked to improve his position. I had the fight 19-19 going into the final round.

Naurdiev rushed Brady with an ill-advised flying knee attempt, and Brady took Naurdiev right back to the ground. This round looked a lot like the second, and Brady controlled Naurdiev for the entirety of the round with his grappling. He searched for a rear-naked choke throughout the round, but to his credit, Naurdiev defended Brady’s submission attempts well. Brady finally locked in a guillotine choke as time ran out, but time expired before he could get the finish. Nonetheless, this was another clear round for Brady.

WINNER: Sean Brady by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Brady rebounded from a slow first round with a strong, grappling heavy, performance in the latter two rounds. Naurdiev looked sharp in round one but had no answer for Brady’s wrestling later in the fight. Brady is now 2-0 in the UFC.

SPIKE CARLYLE (8-1, 145.5) VS AALON CRUZ (8-2, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Carlyle connected with a left head kick early, defended Cruz’s responsive takedown attempt, rocked him with a pair of elbows in the clinch, and just reigned down every strike he could think of after they more or less collapsed into top mount until referee Scott Howard stopped the fight.

WINNER: Spike Carlyle by TKO at 1:25 of Round 1

There was some debate from Michael Bisping on commentary regarding the legality of the elbow that rocked Cruz. As far as I know, the elbow landed clean, and was not from an illegal angle, although it may certainly warrant further review. Regardless, this was Carlyle’s UFC debut, and it could not have gone much better for him.

JORDAN GRIFFIN (17-7, 145) VS T.J. BROWN (14-6, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Brown stumbled Griffin with a right-hand, seconds into the fight. Griffin took Brown down not long thereafter and threatened a guillotine, but Brown worked out of it fairly easily, and spend the first half of the round in top position. Griffin would periodically work his way up, but Brown would drag him back to the ground almost immediately. Griffin threatened a pair of tight looking chokes near the end of the round, but I did not think it was enough to win him the round. 10-9 Brown.

Brown looked tired in between rounds. They were trading some wild strikes in the opening seconds here, with Griffin throwing a head kick, and Brown responded with a looping right hand. Brown took Griffin back down to the ground and looked to resume his game plan from the first. Brown had Griffin in side control, and Griffin snatched a guillotine choke, and actually managed to choke Brown unconscious from side control with the bottom position.

WINNER: Jordan Griffin by guillotine choke at 3:38 of Round 2

This was a fantastic finish. Griffin battled a lot of adversity early, but continuously threatened submissions as Brown tired, and ended up finishing him from an unlikely position. Griffin desperately needed a win here after dropping his first two fights in the UFC, and he picked up a great submission finish here.

LUIS PENA (7-2, 154.5) VS STEVE GARCIA (11-3, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Steve Garcia took this fight on Monday, after Pena’s original opponent, Alexander Muñoz, withdrew,

Garcia came out swinging. Pena forced Garcia against the cage, but Garcia used Pena’s large frame to his advantage, grabbing his leg, lifting him up, and taking him down. This was Pena’s game though, and it did not take him long to take Garcia’s back, and he began looking for a choke. Pena worked for it the majority of the round, but couldn’t lock it in. Garcia had a good opening minute, but from there it was all Pena, and he won the round.

Once again Garcia rushed Pena, but immediately paid for his recklessness and Pena took him down and promptly took his back within the first thirty seconds of the round. Pena trapped Garcia with a body triangle and started cranking the neck. Garcia did a good job throughout the round of defending Pena’s submission attempts and made it into the third. 20-18 Pena going into the final round.

Garcia rushed again, but this time Pena more or less pushed him right to the floor. Garcia threw up a triangle choke, but Pena escaped when Garcia attempted to transition to an armbar and took Garcia’s back once more. The rest of this round mirrored the first two rounds, and I thought this fight was a clear 30-27 for Luis Pena.

WINNER: Luis Pena by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Aside from a couple of brief moments of life from Garcia, Pena dominated this one start to finish. Garcia fought with a lot of heart on less than a week’s notice, but ultimately, he did not have much to offer Pena once the fight went to the ground. I wouldn’t mind if the UFC rescheduled Pena’s fight against Alexander Muñoz. Luis Pena is now 4-2 in the UFC.

MARCIN TYBURA (17-6, 246) VS SERGEY SPIVAK (10-1, 234) – HEAVYWEIGHT

The opening half of the round was a bit of a stalemate on the feet, with neither fighter really pulling ahead in the striking department. Tybura took Spivak down about halfway through the round and began to work from Spivak’s guard. Tybura wasn’t able to advance his position, but landed a number of strong elbows and punches throughout the remainder of the round, sealing the round in his favor.

Into the second, Tybura wrestled Spivak against the cage, but couldn’t get Spivak down. Eventually, Referee Bill Bookwalter separated the fighters due to inactivity. Spivak attempted to take Tybura down with a trip, which was a terrible mistake as Tybura landed on top and took Spivak’s back with a minute remaining. He did not finish the fight, but once again won the round. 20-18 Tybura going into the final round.

Spivak defended Tybura’s takedowns throughout the first three minutes of the third round but was hesitant with his offense. Tybura had a bit of success with his jab and ultimately took Spivak down again with two minutes remaining. I scored the fight 30-27 for Marcin Tybura.

WINNER: Marcin Tybura by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

I couldn’t imagine giving Spivak a round here. Tybura clearly won all three rounds here, and whenever he got Spivak to the ground, Spivak never got back up. That aside, this was not a particularly entertaining fight. Spivak did not showcase a whole lot here and is now 1-2 in the UFC. With this win, Tybura is 5-5 in the UFC, and this was undoubtedly a much-needed victory for the Polish heavyweight.

BRENDAN ALLEN (13-3, 185.5) VS TOM BREESE (11-1, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

Breese attempted to trip Allen early in the first, but Allen ended up in top control as they went to the ground. Allen pursued the kimura from side control, but Breese defended the attempt. As he abandoned the kimura, Allen started aggressively pursuing the finish by throwing numerous strikes down as Breese covered up, and eventually referee Bill Bookwalter stopped the fight.

WINNER: Brendan Allen by TKO at 4:12 of Round 1

Brendan Allen dominated this fight to the extent in which there is not much to discuss. This was certainly a tough loss for Tom Breese, who has only had one fight since 2016. Allen has now won his last six fights and is 2-0 in the UFC. He called out Trevin Giles (who he lost to in 2016), requesting they fight during international fight week.

GABRIEL SILVA (8-1, 135.5) VS KYLER PHILLIPS (6-1, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT

Phillips attempted a flying knee and a spinning head kick within the first fifteen seconds. A solid spin kick to the body landed from Phillips. Phillips was throwing some hard punches in combination, mixing it up with the head and the body. Silva had his moments, but Phillips spent the majority of this round just teeing off on Silva. Silva took Philips down towards the end of the round but was not able to keep him there long. 10-9 Phillips.

Silva connected with a left hook and tried to take Phillips down against the cage. Phillips defended the takedown but attempted one of his own, which allowed Silva to capitalize and bring the fight to the ground. The string from Phillips cup had come out of his shorts, but it didn’t seem to distract him, and he worked his way into top position. Silva attempted a heel hook but ate a number of hammerfists for his trouble. This was a much closer round then the first, but I gave the edge to Phillips.

Philips partially connected with a spinning head kick, and promptly took Silva down with a double leg. Silva got up, but Phillips landed a couple of big strikes and took him right back down. Phillips threw a series of hard elbows down at Silva throughout the remainder of the round, and I scored the fight 30-27 in his favor.

WINNER: Kyler Phillips by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

A great performance from Kyler Phillips, who had the edge everywhere this fight went. Silva was tough, but Phillips never really let him get going. Phillips dedicated this win to his grandparents. This was his UFC debut.

GRANT DAWSON (14-1, 149.5) VS DARRICK MINNER (24-10, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Dawson missed weight by 3.5 lbs and forfeited 30% of his purse.

They went to the ground quickly, and Minner was threatening numerous submissions early, including a tight looking guillotine that Dawson managed to escape from. Dawson eventually found his way to half guard and began to look for a kimura. He didn’t find it, but he did rack up a great deal of top control throughout the round, He began to really tee off on Dawson from on top, and attempted a guillotine as time expired, but couldn’t get the finish. 10-9 Dawson.

Minner appeared to have tired significantly by the second round, and it took about ninety seconds for Dawson to take his back. Dawson locked in the rear-naked choke, and Minner tapped out.

WINNER: Grant Dawson by rear-naked choke at 1:38 of Round 2

Despite the weight miss, Dawson gave an impressive performance here. He fought off some tough submission attempts early, before taking control of the fight with his own grappling and ultimately getting the finish. He is now 3-0 in the UFC.

MEGAN ANDERSON (10-4, 145) VS NORMA DUMONT (4-0, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Dumont pressured Anderson against the cage early. They reached a stalemate and eventually separated after about three minutes. Anderson almost immediately put her down with a right hand, and Dumont was out.

WINNER: Megan Anderson by KO at 3:31 of Round 1

Megan Anderson’s biggest obstacle thus far into her UFC run has come in the grappling department, and she did a good job of defending Dumont’s takedowns early in this fight, and judging by her last two fights, it seems she has progressed notably in that area. As far as the striking goes, there were never any doubts regarding her power. Anderson called out Amanda Nunes in her post-fight interview. She is now 3-2 in the UFC.

ION CUTELABA (15-4, 204.5) VS MAGOMED ANKALAEV (12-1, 204.4) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Cutelaba walked right across the octagon and bumped into Ankalaev during the introductions, and they had to be separated by security.

They began the fight by exchanging body kicks, and then Ankalaev connected with a hook that appeared to wobble Cutelaba. Ankalaev began throwing a number of head kicks and hooks. It was hard to tell whether Cutelaba was still wobbled or taunting, but either way, Cutelaba blocked the majority of Ankalaev’s strikes and immediately returned fire, but referee Kevin McDonald stopped the fight. Cutelaba appeared to be fine and immediately protested the stoppage.

WINNER: Magomed Ankalaev by TKO at 0:31 of Round 1

I thought this was a horrible stoppage from Kevin McDonald. Make no mistake Cutelaba was wobbled, but he was blocking almost everything Ankalaev was throwing, and he was in the middle of returning fire as the fight was stopped. Cutelaba was naturally furious, as was the crowd. Michael Bisping attempted to calm the crowd, but they were livid. This will undoubtedly be a heavily discussed stoppage coming out of this card. Aside from that, Ankalaev is now 4-1 in the UFC, and he continues to impress me with his recent performances. He is definitely a fighter to look out for at light heavyweight.

FELICIA SPENCER (7-1, 145) VS ZARAH FAIRN (6-3, 146) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Fairn landed some decent strikes early, including a well-timed head kick, but Spencer took her down and landed right in full guard. Spencer landed some brutal elbows, and Fairn seemed to have no answer for Spencer as she just covered up. She was doing a ton of damage, and referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight.

WINNER: Felicia Spencer by TKO at 3:37 of Round 1

After Megan Anderson’s first-round finish earlier in the night, Spencer needed an impressive win to ensure that she would stay in the conversation for a title shot against Amanda Nunes, and she did just that with a first-round stoppage of her own. With her stoppage victory of Anderson not even a year old, she may very well be the front runner for a 145lbs title shot despite Spencer’s loss to Cris Cyborg in her last fight. Spencer is now 2-1 in the UFC.

JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ (28-5, 124.5) VS DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO (17-1, 127.5) – UFC FLYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

Figueiredo missed championship weight by 2.5lbs, and thus was ineligible to win the flyweight championship. He forfeited 30% of his purse to Benavidez. The title was still on the line for Benavidez, but if Figueiredo were to win, the title would be vacated.

Figueiredo took Benavidez down and nearly had an armbar cinched in, but Benavidez managed to scramble out of it. Benavidez continuously rushed forward, connecting with some heavy combinations that ended with clean right hooks. As the round progressed, Figueiredo began to push forward. They were trading wildly at the end of this very entertaining round. That right hand kept finding a home for Joseph Benavidez and I thought it won him the round.

Early into the second round, Figueiredo landed a hard right hand of his own as Benavidez pressured forward. Benavidez was cut open bad above his right eye from an inadvertent headbutt as he pressed forward. Moments later, Figueiredo dropped Benavidez with another right hand and finished Benavidez off with a pair of hammerfists.

WINNER: Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO at 1:54 of Round 2

Firstly, this was a tremendous fight while it lasted. Benavidez has a habit of ducking his head in as he presses forward while throwing combinations, and it cost him when they collided heads. Figueiredo is always an entertaining fighter, but his win leaves the flyweight division in a state of uncertainty, with the championship vacated. When we look at options for the flyweight title there is no shortage of direction to go in. A Figueiredo/Formiga rematch could make sense, and honestly, I don’t think that many people would be upset if Figueiredo and Benavidez ran in back considering the circumstances. Nonetheless, assuming Henry Cejudo does not return to 125lbs (and with Demetrious Johnson in ONE), the flyweight division is in an uncertain place, and there can be no sure bets regarding the future of the division.

Bisping interviewed Benavidez after the fight, and it was hard to watch. Benavidez was naturally devastated, and I always disagree with interviewing a fighter after a knockout loss. Benavidez was all class in the interview, as you would expect, and much like the flyweight division, it is tough to say what will be next for Joseph Benavidez. Assuming he continues his fighting career, Benavidez will remain a strong contender at 125lbs, but he is now 0-3 in title fights (0-4 if you include the WEC), which is definitely a big part of the story of his career at this point.