UFC 255 REPORT: Figueiredo and Shevchenko Retain Flyweight Titles

By: Eric Marcotte

UFC 255 took place on Saturday night from the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The PPV event was headlined by a pair of flyweight title fights, as both Deiveson Figueiredo and Valentina Shevchenko looked to defend their UFC championships. Figueiredo won the vacant flyweight title in July, defeating Joseph Benavidez in dominant fashion. He attempted to make his first defence of the title on this card against the fourth ranked flyweight contender, Alex Perez. Since receiving a UFC contract on the first season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Perez has gone 6-1 in the flyweight division, and a first-round stoppage of Jussier Formiga in his last bout earned him this title shot. Shevchenko has gone 5-0 since entering the flyweight division, and she had defended her title three times prior heading into this fight. Pre-COVID, Shevchenko was slated to defend her title against Joanna Calderwood, but the fight fell apart when the pandemic hit. Calderwood opted to take a stay-busy fight, and found herself across the cage from Jennifer Maia. Maia shocked Calderwood, and submitted her in the first round, effectively taking her spot as the next challenger for Valentina Shevchenko. Maia was a massive underdog going into this fight, but the former Invicta FC Flyweight Champion looked to make history and upset Shevchenko to take home UFC gold. The commentary team for the card consisted of Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier.

QUICK RESULTS:

  • Sasha Palatnikov def. Louis Cosce by TKO at 2:27 of Round 3
  • Kyle Daukaus def. Dustin Stoltzfus by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
  • Alan Jouban def. Jared Gordan by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
  • Nicolas Dalby def. Mike Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Antonina Shevchenko def. Ariane Lipski by TKO at 4:33 of Round 2
  • Joaquin Buckley def. Jordan Wright by KO at 0:18 of Round 2
  • Brandon Moreno def. Brandon Royval by TKO at 4:59 of Round 1
  • Paul Craig def. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua by TKO at 3:36 of Round 2
  • Kaitlyn Chookagian def. Cynthia Calvillo by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
  • Tim Means def. Mike Perry by unanimous decision (30-27. 29-28, 29-28)
  • Valentina Shevchenko def. Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision (49-46 all) to retain the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship
  • Deiveson Figueiredo def. Alex Perez by guillotine choke at 1:57 of Round 1 to retain the UFC Flyweight Championship

LOUIS COSCE (7-0, 170) VS SASHA PALATNIKOV (5-2, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT

Palatnikov shot for a takedown early in the first round, but almost got caught in a guillotine, and they returned to the feet. Cosce caught a kick and Palatnikov tried to roll out of it. This was a costly mistake, as Cosce just swarmed him with strikes. It looked like the fight was close to getting stopped a few times, and Cosce was even dropped at one point, but he somehow recovered, and started returning fire. Cosce expended a ton of energy trying to finish Palatnikov, and Palatnikov completely reversed the momentum of the fight. He landed some hard-right hands, and a strong elbow. In the final minute Cosce landed a strong right hand, but ate a huge spinning backfist, and Palatnikov stuffed a takedown to end the round. This round was wild, and each fighter landed 51 throughout the opening five minutes.

Palatnikov stuffed a takedown to kick off the second round, and Cosce ate a ton of shots on his way back to his feet. He looked exhausted. Both men were throwing out their jabs, and Palatnikov ate another spinning backfist. They exchanged knee’s in the clinch, and then the action was paused after one of Cosce’s punches landed low. Cosce landed a front kick when the action resumed, and he was much busier after getting a bit of rest from the low blow. They traded wildly in the clinch towards the end of the round.

Cosce shot for a takedown to begin the third round, and Palatnikov blatantly grabbed the cage to defend it. Referee Chris Tognoni gave Palatnikov a stern warning. They returned to the clinch, and exchanged hard knees to the body. Palatnikov landed a powerful kick to the body. Cosce nailed Palatnikov below the belt yet again. Rogan and Cormier were having a laugh about Cormier’s eye pokes as Palatnikov attempted to recover from the blow. Palatnikov landed a powerful right hand as the action resumed, and defended a desperation takedown attempt from Cosce. It was clear that Cosce was hurt, and Palatnikov just rained down punches as Cosce shelled up, and the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Sasha Palatnikov by TKO at 2:27 of Round 3

This was a great way to open up this card. The first round was fantastic, and it looked like Palatnikov was done, but Cosce emptied the gas tank, and Palatnikov is a fighter who has had five round experience previously. This marked Palatnikov’s UFC debut.

KYLE DAUKAUS (9-1, 185.5) VS DUSTIN STOLTZFUS (13-1, 184.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

Daukaus landed a left hand as Stoltzfus was off balance, and he proceeded to pressure Stoltzfus to the cage. They wrestled against the cage for the next two minutes, and eventually Daukaus got him down. Daukaus landed some strong hammerfists and elbows, but wasn’t really able to advance his position and Stoltzfus escaped from the bottom by rolling for a leg, and he ended the round on top. 10-9 Daukaus.

Daukaus was aggressive on the feet to begin the second round, but a low blow brought a momentary pause to the action. Daukaus continued to land strong left hands when the action resumed. They wrestled in the clinch against the cage, and Stoltzfus connected with a clean counter right, which was probably his best moment of the round. They traded hooks near the end of the round. 20-18 Daukaus on my scorecard.

Stoltzfus began the third round with a kick to the body, and Daukaus backed him off with a flurry of strikes. He brought Stoltzfus right back to the cage, and when Daukaus separated Stoltzfus shot for another single leg, which Daukaus defended. Stoltzfus rolled for a leg again, but all that resulted in was Daukaus landing some strong ground and pound strikes before he returned to his feet. Daukaus was just teeing off on Stoltzfus at the end of the round, and he clearly won this fight.

WINNER: Kyle Daukaus by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

Kyle Daukaus dominated the vast majority of this fight. He had a huge advantage in the striking department, and it felt like the only reason the fight went the distance, was because he chose to grapple for the majority of the fight. Daukaus is now 1-1 in the UFC.

ALAN JOUBAN (16-7, 170.5) VS JARED GOODEN (17-4, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT

Gooden was giving Jouban no room early, pressuring forward and throwing out his jab. Jouban landed a number of kicks to the body. Gooden backed Jouban up with an accidental headbutt, but Jouban recovered quickly, and continued to attack the body. Jouban’s right eye was beginning to swell shut. Jouban landed two more powerful body kicks, and Gooden connected with a straight right hand. This was a close round, but I gave the edge to Jouban.

Gooden hurt Jouban with a 1-2 early in the second round, but he couldn’t capitalize on it, and Jouban returned fire. He landed some solid left hands, and Gooden was staggering around the cage. Gooden ate shot after shot, but he wouldn’t go down, and both men looked exhausted with two minutes left in the round. Jouban landed a strong right hand, and Gooden fired back with a right hand of his own. Jouban was walking Gooden down, and it felt like Jouban couldn’t miss every time he threw in combination. That being said, Gooden continuously weathered the storm, landed some good shots of his own, and this one went to round three. 20-18 Jouban.

Gooden began the third round with a right hand. Jouban went back to the body, but his body shots understandably didn’t have the power behind them that they did in the first round. A low blow paused the action momentarily, but Jouban quickly recovered. He connected with a body kick, and Gooden backed him off with a quick combination. Gooden shot for a takedown late in the round, and Jouban caught him with a guillotine. He didn’t finish the submission, but it was razor close, and the fight went the distance. 30-27 Jouban.

WINNER: Alan Jouban by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

This was the final fight of the early preliminary portion of the card, and it was another great fight. Both men were swinging hard from the opening round, and somehow this one ended up going to the scorecards. This was a great performance from Jouban, who picked up his first win since February of 2018 here. Jouban will be 39 next week, and on his way to the octagon, the commentary team speculated that this could be his final octagon appearance.

NICOLAS DALBY (18-3-1, 2 NC, 170) VS DANIEL RODRIGUEZ (13-1, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT

Rodriguez landed a solid left hand to the body early in the first. They exchanged leg kicks. Dalby caught Rodriguez with a right hand that made him stumble. Dalby continued to fire off leg kicks, and mixed things up with one to the head. Rodriguez landed another left hand to the body. Rodriguez fired up near the end of the round, landing a number of strong strikes to both the head and the body as Dalby attempted to circle away. Close round, and I gave the edge to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez kept the pressure on in the second round, and he attempted to take Dalby down against the cage. They both connected with right hands on the break, and the Rodriguez defended a takedown attempt from Dalby. Dalby was swinging at air quite often throughout the round. However, he did find success when he went back to attacking the lead leg of Rodriguez, and Rodriguez’s output was so low this round, I thought Dalby evened up the scorecards.

Dalby continued to be the busier fighter in the third round, landing body kicks and changing levels to keep Rodriguez hesitant. Rodriguez continued to defend Dalby’s takedown attempts, but he just wasn’t active enough to win the round. Rodriguez did land a strong left hand before time expired, but I scored the round for Dalby, and thus scored the fight 29-28 in his favour.

WINNER: Nicolas Dalby by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Daniel Cormier thought this was a robbery. I could be in the minority, but I agreed with the judges on this one. I just didn’t think Mike Rodriguez was active enough throughout this fight, even though they likely landed a similar amount of strikes by the end of things. Dalby is now 2-0 (1 NC) since returning to the UFC last year.

ANTONINA SHEVCHENKO (8-2, 125) VS ARIANE LIPSKI (13-5, 126) – FLYWEIGHT

Lipski landed a strong straight left hand to begin the fight. They soon found themselves wrestling against the cage, reaching somewhat of a stalemate. Shevchenko eventually got Lipski down to the ground, and moved into half guard. She controlled the remainder of the round, and I scored it in her favour.

Lipski landed a right hand near the start of the second round, but Shevchenko brought the fight right back to the ground, and quickly transitioned to half guard. She moved into side control, and she landed a number of right hands from this position. This round was all Shevchenko, and Lipski just had no answer for Shevchenko’s grappling. Eventually Shevchenko just began to continuously throw down strikes, and when Lipski couldn’t improve her position, the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Antonina Shevchenko by TKO at 4:33 of Round 2

Shevchenko completely controlled this fight on the ground, which was a good sign after she got dominated on the ground herself in her last fight. Lipski looked good during the limited amount of time in which the fight took place on the feet, but she had nothing to offer Shevchenko on the ground. Antonina Shevchenko is now 3-2 in the UFC.

JOAQUIN BUCKLEY (11-3, 182.5) VS JORDAN WRIGHT (11-0, 1 NC, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

Seconds into the fight, they began to aggressively wrestle in the clinch. Buckley landed a combination of hooks to the body, and a left hand that left a mark on Wright’s face. Wright avoided some big swings from Buckley, and connected with some kicks to the body, as well as a solid one to the head. Buckley was just marching forward, swinging for the fences, but he was getting countered as often as he landed. Buckley eventually cornered him, and landed a number of strong hooks against the cage. He overwhelmed Wright, and dropped him. Wright held on until the end of the round, but he was close to getting finished here.

When the second round began, Buckley gave Wright no time to recover, and he landed a pair of hooks that knocked Wright unconscious.

WINNER: Joaquin Buckley by KO at 0:18 of Round 2

Buckley received a great deal of attention following his highlight finish of Impa Kasanganay, and he capitalized on that momentum with another brutal knockout here. He stated the pressure got to him in his post-fight interview, but he got the job done, and this a fighter who is going into 2021 with a ton of momentum. He called out James Krause in his post-fight interview, and I think that fight makes a ton of sense. He is now 2-1 in the UFC.

BRANDON MORENO (17-5-1, 125) VS BRANDON ROYVAL (12-4, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

These guys immediately started trading, with both fighters landing huge shots. Moreno took Royval down in the middle of the cage, after eating a big shot, but Royval popped right back up. Royval kept going for spinning elbows, and Moreno eventually got a read on it. Moreno took his back while he was spinning, and dragged him to the ground. Moreno was cranking Royval’s neck, and it looked nasty, but Royval slipped out of it. Moreno began to work from Royval’s guard, and he started to rain down hammerfists. Royval let out a yell, and it appeared he dislocated his shoulder. The fight was stopped with a second left in the round, and Moreno picked up the first-round stoppage.

WINNER: Brandon Moreno by TKO at 4:59 of Round 1

Royval was in a ton of pain, and his coach popped his shoulder back into place shortly after the fight was stopped. This was a tremendous fight while it lasted, and both fighters looked great. Moreno is rightfully the top contender at flyweight now, and I imagine he will be fighting for the title in his next fight.

MAURICIO “SHOGUN” RUA (27-11-1, 205.5) VS PAUL CRAIG (13-4-1, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

This fight opened up the PPV portion of the card. Rua and Craig fought previously, in November of 2019. The fight resulted in a split draw.

Craig landed a number of kicks in the opening minute. Shogun backed Craig up with a combination, but Craig took Shogun down with a double leg. Shogun made his way back to the feet, but Craig landed some knees in the clinch, and he pulled Rua back down to the ground. Shogun returned to his feet, but got taken right back down, and Craig took his back. Shogun reversed the position and began to work from half-guard. Shogun ended the round on top, but it wasn’t enough to win him the round. 10-9 Craig.

Rua was eating jabs whenever he moved in, and was very hesitant to begin the second round. Shogun landed a strong right hand, but overcommitted to a follow up and Craig changed levels. He took Shogun down, and quickly took his back. Shogun rotated out of it and back to his feet, but Craig gave him no time to recover, immediately shooting for another takedown. Craig was successful, and he flattened Shogun out. He began to rain down ground and pound strikes, and Rua tapped from strikes.

WINNER: Paul Craig by TKO at 3:36 of Round 2

This was a grappling heavy game plan by Paul Craig, and it worked out very well for him. Shogun tired quickly, and when Craig got him down that second time in the second round, it felt like the beginning of the end. Shogun is very slow (physically) at this point in his career, and it’s a bit tough to see him in there, tapping to strikes in an empty arena. I believe he has two fights left on his contract, and assuming he decides to fight the contract out, I hope he finds himself against fighters with a similar number of miles on their body.

KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN (14-4, 126) VS CYNTHIA CALVILLO (9-1-1, 124.5) – FLYWEIGHT

Calvillo landed a left hook and went for a single leg. Chookagian popped up and was tagging Calvillo from distance, utilising her reach advantage. Chookagian sprawled on Calvillo’s next takedown attempt, but ate a straight right. The commentators stopped paying attention to the fight near the end of the round, and decided to focus on turning the volume on their headphones down instead. 10-9 Chookagian.

The second round was looking a lot like the first, as Chookagian’s reach advantage kept Calvillo at range. That being said, when Calvillo worked her way into range, she was landing solid shots, her short-left hook in particular. The commentary team would lead you to believe that Chookagian was dominating the fight, but it was much closer than Joe Rogan would have you believe. Still, I did score this round for Chookagian as well.

Joe Rogan went full conspiracy mode, as he refused to believe the striking numbers were as close as they were. Calvillo was more active with her kicks this round, although Chookagian caught a leg and tripped her at one point. Neither fighter landed a ton in this round, but Chookagian was the busier fighter. Solid 1-2 from Calvillo before time expired. The fight went the distance, and I scored the fight 30-27 Chookagian.

WINNER: Kaitlyn Chookagian by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

As they were showing the highlights from the fight, Joe Rogan questioned why they were showing so many Calvillo highlights. This wasn’t a great fight, but Chookagian showed why she’s been one of the top ranked flyweights since the division was formed. She is 6-3 at 125lbs in the UFC.

MIKE PERRY (14-6, 175.5) VS TIM MEANS (30-12-1, 1 NC, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT

Perry missed weight by 4.5lbs, and was fined 30% of his purse.

Perry shot for a takedown, and brought Means to the ground with a bodylock. Perry took his back, and began to search for the rear naked choke. He was squeezing the jaw, but Means rotated on top, and got back to his feet. Means was getting the better of him on the feet but ate a huge hook to the body. Perry landed a right hook, and Means responded with some quick jabs to end the round. 10-9 Perry on my scorecard.

Means continued to land his jab, and caught Perry with a right hook. Means landed a right uppercut as Perry lunged forward. Perry landed another hook to the body. About halfway through the round, Perry landed a right hook that looked like it hurt Means, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on it. Means continued to counter Perry whenever Perry loaded up. Means landed a strong elbow. Perry continuously walked into Means jab. I had it 19-19 going into the final round.

Perry immediately tried to take Means down, but he was unsuccessful, and Means landed some solid shots to Perry against the cage. They traded jabs. Perry and Means began to trade in the pocket, and Means eventually shot for a takedown, bringing Perry across the octagon. Means continued to have success with his hands, and Perry’s face was showing the effects of the fight. They traded wildly to end the fight. 29-28 Means.

WINNER: Tim Means by unanimous decision (30-27. 29-28, 29-28)

While Mike Perry is a powerful striker, Means was much more technical, and for every strike Perry landed, it felt like Means was landing three. I was surprised a judge gave Means the first round, but the right man one. Means talked about Perry’s unprofessionalism in the lead up to the fight, although said he was happy about the extra 30k he received from Perry’s weight miss.

The UFC aired a video package honouring Marc Ratner, who they will be inducting into the UFC Hall of Fame for his efforts in legalizing MMA. Ratner was formerly the head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and he is currently the Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs in the UFC.

VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO (19-3, 124.5) VS JENNIFER MAIA (18-6-1, 124.5) – UFC WOMENS FLYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

Shevchenko was a – 2000 favourite going into this fight.

Shevchenko landed a counter right early, and quickly brought Maia down to the ground. Shevchenko spent the first half of the round in Maia’s guard, where Maia wrapped her up. Shevchenko connected with a few solid elbows. That was the opening round. 10-9 Shevchenko.

It took less then twenty seconds for Shevchenko to take this fight back to the ground, but this time Maia popped right back to her fight. Shevchenko landed a solid knee in the clinch, but found herself pressed against the cage for a couple minutes, as Maia racked up some control time of her own. Maia took Shevchenko down near the cage, and she continued to control the round from a more dominant position. A clear 19-19 going into round three.

Shevchenko landed a pair of left hands to begin the third round. Maia brought her back to the cage, and landed a pair of hooks on the break. Shevchenko partially connected on a head kick, and landed another hard-left hand. She connected with that left hand one more time, and brought Maia back to the ground. He racked up a solid amount of control time from half-guard, but Maia worked her way back up. Shevchenko ended the round with one last takedown. 29-28 Shevchenko.

Seconds into round four, Shevchenko tagged Maia with another left hand. Maia was trying to make her way inside, but she was getting lit up every time she tried to close the distance. Maia landed a pair of right hands, but Shevchenko brought Maia down once again. Joe Rogan could not believe that Shevchenko was taking this fight to the ground, even though Valentina Shevchenko had taken down every opponent she’s faced since moving to flyweight. Shevchenko controlled the remainder of the round. 39-37 Shevchenko.

Maia knew she needed a finish, and immediately rushed across the octagon in an attempt to take Shevchenko down. They exchanged right hands, and Shevchenko flurried forward before Maia re-engaged her in the clinch. Maia’s nose was bleeding heavily, and when they separated, Shevchenko continued to win the striking exchanges. To her credit, Maia never stopped fighting, and the fight went the distance. 49-46 Shevchenko.

WINNER: Valentina Shevchenko by unanimous decision (49-46 all) to retain the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship

Unsurprisingly, Shevchenko had a huge advantage in the striking department, and comfortably controlled the vast majority of the striking exchanges. Maia took a round from Shevchenko, which is only the second time someone has done that at flyweight, but by and large, she didn’t have much to offer Shevchenko, as tough as she was. Shevchenko is now 6-0 since moving to the flyweight division, and this was her fourth defence of the championship. Additionally, Shevchenko is now fourth all time in title fight wins among women in the UFC (behind Amanda Nunes, Ronda Rousey, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk). I think the next fight for her should be Jessica Andrade, and while Shevchenko will be a significant favourite in that fight, Andrade should pose Shevchenko’s greatest challenge since winning the title.

DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO (19-1, 125) VS ALEX PEREZ (24-5, 124.5) – UFC MENS FLYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

Figueiredo began the fight with a pair of body kicks. Figueiredo landed another body shot and Perez shot for a takedown. It took him a while to get Figueiredo down, but when he did, Figueiredo immediately caught him in a guillotine, and Perez was forced to tap out.

WINNER: Deiveson Figueiredo by guillotine choke at 1:57 of Round 1 to retain the UFC Flyweight Championship

This was Figueiredo’s first title defence, and it did it almost effortlessly. Alex Perez is a tough fighter, but Figueiredo is a monster at 125lbs, and he just caught Perez in that guillotine. Figueiredo is now 9-1 at flyweight, with his only loss coming to Jussier Formiga, who was cut earlier in the week. He is going to be a sizeable favourite against anyone in the division right now, although there are no shortage of contenders. Brandon Moreno should be the next fighter in line for a title shot, but it wouldn’t shock me if the UFC went back to the originally scheduled Cody Garbrandt fight. Still, Figueiredo called out Moreno in his post-fight interview, which gives weight to that being his next fight.

Watch or listen to Eric Marcotte and Phil Chertok discuss tonight’s results in-depth on the UFC 255 POST Show