LAS VEGAS – Deiveson Figueiredo stopped Alex Perez with a guillotine choke in the first round at UFC 255 on Saturday night, defending his men’s flyweight championship for the first time.
Valentina Shevchenko defended the UFC women’s flyweight title with a surprisingly difficult unanimous decision over Jennifer Maia at the UFC Apex gym on the corporate promotion campus in her hometown.
Figueiredo (20-1) earned his seventh record-breaking win in the 125-pound division by squeezing Perez’s neck out of a scramble at 1:57 in the opening round.
Perez (24-6) had almost taken Figueiredo’s return a moment before the Brazilian champion turned the tables and ended the fight with the flair and skill that made him a growing mixed martial arts star.
Shevchenko (20-3) earned his sixth consecutive victory as UFC flyweight and his fourth title defense, but the dominant champion will work much harder than almost everyone expected. Shevchenko won 49-46 on all three cards.
Maia (18-7-1), one of the greatest underdogs in the history of the UFC title fight, pushed Shevchenko to the limit and even won the second round against a champion who had been at penalty tested during his nearly three-year career at 125 pounds.
Figueiredo claimed his title earlier this year with his second consecutive win over Joseph Benavidez, finally rising to the top of a UFC division with just two previous champions. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson dominated the flyweight ranks for six years before Henry Cejudo dethroned him in 2018.
Figueiredo’s exciting victory fits into the plan for the UFC, which would like to arouse public interest in the quiet flyweight division with a dominant title reign from Figueiredo, a former sushi chef and assistant hairdresser by the mouth. of the Amazon.
With 17 arrests in his first 20 career victories, Figueiredo’s ability to finish his fights is unusual in the flyweight division – and exactly what he needs to attract fans.
Perez won his way into a title shot after several years in regional promotions in his native Central California, followed by an appearance in UFC President Dana White’s Contender Series. He then won five of his first six fights in the UFC, allowing him to take advantage of the opportunity last month when former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt had to leave the main event with an injury.
For most of the show’s penultimate bout, Shevchenko escaped his dominant kickboxing and counterpunching in favor of takedowns and ground fights with Maia, the massive underdog who caused enough trouble in the first rounds to attract the Shevchenko’s attention.
After Shevchenko dominated the first round on the ground, Maia largely controlled the second round, even on the ground – not a small faith against Shevchenko, who had lost only one round on the judges ’scorecards throughout her career. UFC as a flyweight.
Shevchenko killed Maia twice in the third, and the champion picked Maia on her feet and landed in the fourth. Shevchenko bled Maia’s face in the fifth round with blows, but Maia survived the final horn.
Shevchenko, 32, has dominated the 125-pound division since December 2018, a year after the UFC created the belt. Her only two losses in the last decade have been tough decisions against two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes, and Shevchenko has dominated each of her first three flyweight title defenses.
Maia won her first title after a landslide victory over first contender Joanne Calderwood in August, jumping the line for her shot – and then proving she deserved it.
Scotsman Paul Craig opened the pay-per-view part of the show with a second-round stop from former lightweight champion Maurício “Shogun” Rua.
Earlier, Mexico’s Brandon Moreno likely lined up for the next shot at the men’s flyweight belt with a first-round pick from fellow contender Brandon Royval.
Moreno (18-5-1) was booked to fight Perez in UFC 255 before Garbrandt left and Perez had the title shot. Moreno was disappointed, but still finished Royval, whose shoulder was dislocated, to the ground with a second remaining in the lap.
Shevchenko’s older sister, Antonina, stopped Ariane Lipski with fists in the second round of her showdown under paper. And Shevchenkos are the first sisters to compete on the same card in UFC history.