Video Credit: UFC

FSM Essential Recap: UFC 256 – Figueiredo vs. Moreno


The Champion vs. The No. 1 Contender. Three weeks notice. A five round thriller and a late entry into the Fight of the Year conversation. The UFC 256 headliner between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno was everything that we could have hoped for and more — and the card as a whole too lived up to the hype.


Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari/ Zuffa LLC

Both Figueiredo and Moreno have just fought on Nov. 21. The Brazilian defended his belt for the first time while the Mexican prospect asserted himself as the clear title challenger.

They were both winners as soon as they set foot into the Octagon on Saturday night after so eagerly accepting this short-notice turnaround that would save the UFC’s final pay-per-view of the year. We knew in advance that on paper, this was an exciting matchup between two very explosive fighters — but what we ended up getting quite comfortably exceeded most expectations.

The result, in the end, was a little anticlimactic. Figueiredo and Moreno fought out a majority draw after a breathtaking battle. But the show that they put on was certainly one for the ages.


The fight had a little bit of everything. In fact, it had quite a lot of everything. Grueling striking exchanges, grappling, wrestling, jiujitsu — you name it; it was an exhibition. Figueiredo had never been taken to such deep waters before and Moreno proved that he was for real and that he belonged right at the top.


By consensus, the first round went to Figueiredo. Having lost only once in his career and won his last five, the dominant champion picked up exactly where he left off 21 days ago. “The God of War” commanded the Octagon and teed off on Moreno with confidence. But, unlike most of his recent opponents, the challenger wasn’t phased. Moreno often brings up his “Mexican warrior toughness,” and on Saturday, he really brought it — as ever. Every punch that landed and every kick that dug into his body didn’t seem to impress — Moreno kept moving forward.

Between rounds two and four is when things got interesting. Having tasted Figueiredo’s most powerful weapons, Moreno visibly grew more comfortable and into the fight. His unorthodox stance and quickness on the feet were causing Figueiredo problems. For a man who had spent a total of approx. 12 minutes in the cage in his last four fights, seeing Moreno pick up confidence as the end of round horns continued to sound looked to be a little discouraging for the champ.

Moreno was landing some nice shots and utilizing his wrestling extremely well through the rounds, putting Figueiredo’s gas tank to the test. It was getting close to the championship rounds for the first time in both of their careers, but it was Figueiredo’s cardio that was more in question going into this fight. Many believed that the longer the fight goes, the more Moreno would benefit.


Round three was perhaps the most significant, as that was when Figueiredo had a point deducted from him by referee Jason Herzog for a gut-wrenching strike to Moreno’s groin area.


That could have had a big impact on the proceedings, and therefore, the playing field had to be leveled. From then and into the fourth, Moreno gained momentum and took over ever so slightly, but Figueiredo was never out. His gas tank held up, and his power carried over into each and every round.

Visibly a little hurt due to a pop in his shoulder, Moreno was very conservative in the fifth and final round — the one that we later found out could have tipped the decision in his favor. As the Mexican took his foot off the gas, Figueiredo continued to do his thing and score valuable points. After the insane tempo of the previous four, the final round was a lot more pedestrian, sealing the champ’s retention of the belt.

To think that the Flyweight division was so close to being scrapped from existence not so long ago. Now, the 125-pound weight class is in arguably the best shape it has ever been in. After the final horn, UFC boss Dana White went on to say that this was actually the best fight in the history of the division. The flyweights have well and truly been saved.

Figueiredo and Moreno gave their division the best advertisement possible. And the best part about all of this is that they will almost certainly run it back in 2021.


Official Decision: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno — Draw (Majority — 48-46, 47-47 x2)


Co-Main Event: Charles Oliveira def. Tony Ferguson via Dec. (Unanimous — 30-26 x3)


At first glance, it’s amazing to think that this spectacular performance was Charles Oliveira’s 27th fight inside of the Octagon. At only 31, it feels like we have very much witnessed him grown and develop into one of the most complete and dangerous fighters in the Lightweight division.

Riding a seven-fight win streak heading into this one, facing a terrifying figure like Tony Ferguson is a move not many would have the courage to make. “El Cucuy” is a man that has been historically avoided at 155-pounds. Yet, on short notice, Oliveira stepped up to the challenge and made a real statement of intent for all of his fellow championship suitors to see.

Coming off his first loss in seven years, Ferguson was always going to pose a threat. By consensus, the former Interim Champion was going to be desperate to get back into the win column and the title picture. But, on the night, his opponent had other ideas. And, in the end, it wasn’t even close.

Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari/ Zuffa LLC

By some inhumane miracle, the fight did not come to a stop in round one when Oliveira locked in a nasty armbar to top off five minutes of pure ground dominance. Known for his toughness, Ferguson simply refused to tap as his arm looked close to being ripped away from his body. Granted, it was only one round — but in that five minutes, Oliveira showed the kind of poise that we hadn’t seen from him before. He would soon go on to announce that he is here for real this time.

Rounds two and three were eerily similar to the opener. Oliveira was too quick, too strong, and too clever for Ferguson. He was edging the American in the striking exchanges and taking the fight to the ground with ease. And once on top, there was only one winner in the advanced grappling exchanges. A perfect mix of wrestling and Brazilian JiuJitsu, Oliveira was not letting this fight slip out from his grasp.

Ranked at No. 7 prior to this one, Oliveira secured his eighth consecutive victory. And making the motion of a belt being strapped around his waist, the Brazilian is sure to be right amongst it in the title conversation in 2021 with the throne, perhaps soon to be up for grabs following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement.


Other notable results on the UFC 256 Main Card:


Mackenzie Dern def. Virna Jandiroba via Dec. (Unanimous — 29-28 x3)

Two ranked Strawweights slugged out the first decision of the night at the halfway point of the main card, as Mackenzie Dern managed to extend her winning streak to three victories with a hard-earned unanimous decision over a highly rated Virna Jandiroba.

In a fight that saw two decorated Brazilian JiuJitsu practitioners go head-to-head, a grappling exhibition is not what we saw unfold inside of the Octagon. Instead, the two fighters decided to throw down in the middle of the cage in a dual attempt to break into the Top 10 one of the most talented divisions in the UFC.

A bright start from Dern, who proved that she could strike and get hit, and a solid second round from Jandiroba saw the fight go into the third and final round for the first time on the night and with the judge’s scorecards very much in the air. It was all up for grabs.

Dern certainly wore more blood, but throughout the bout, it felt like it was the 27-year-old that was landing more of the power punches. Jandiroba too, demonstrated her toughness, but in the end, Dern did just enough to get her hand raised on all three of the judge’s cards. A much-needed momentum building victory for Dern, who once again silenced some critics and showed off her ever-improving stand-up. Improving to 10-1, a place amongst the divisions elite awaits.


Kevin Holland def. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza via R1 KO

If you weren’t already on the Kevin Holland hype train prior to this fight, hop on board before the year ends as the places are filling up quickly. This year belongs to the 28-year-old. Well, as a matter of fact, the last seven months do.

Holland picked up his fifth win of 2020 with an arguable Knockout of the Year worthy finish of the legend, Jacare Souza. The insane run started in May of this year. And once the Holland train took off from the station, it never looked back.

The newly ranked Middleweight contender actually had a fight scheduled for last week against the highly-rated Jack Hermansson. Unfortunately for Holland though, he was hit with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and had to give up the potential No. 1 Contender eliminator. But Holland said no problem and took on this very dangerous challenge instead.

Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Souza, a grappling extraordinaire, is a nightmare matchup for most strikers. But, other than packing serious heat in his gloves, Holland is a Brazilian JiuJitsu black belt — meaning that this could be a good opportunity for him to further show off his skill set.

As widely expected, the fight started with Souza landing an early takedown. But perhaps to the surprise of many, it didn’t last much longer from there.

From the off, Holland was extremely aggressive off his back, landing hard elbows and doing good work in the guard with his legs. He then momentarily got back to his feet before pulling guard again with a guillotine attempt before once again putting his hands to work. And shortly after telling Souza that he had a dream about their fight, Holland connected with a bomb right hand to Souza’s temple, shutting the Brazilian’s lights outoff his back.

An incredible victory which now has catapulted Holland right into the Fighter of the Year conversation and very likely deep into the Top 5 of the Middleweight division.


Ciryl Gane def. Junior dos Santos via R2 TKO (Punches)

It’s usually a fun time when a couple of heavyweights kick off a UFC main card, and this bout was no different. A first real test of this magnitude for undefeated French prospect Ciryl Gane, who was tasked with squaring off against seasoned vet and former champion, Junior dos Santos.

In spite of dos Santos having three consecutive stoppage losses on his record coming into this one, the pressure of facing such a high profile opponent is still a test that an up and coming fighter has to pass, and Gane did so with flying colors.

Taking control of the bout from the first bell, Gane took to the center of the cage and set the tempo with a well-timed jab that controlled the range and visibly unsettled dos Santos. Moving in and out of the pocket like a Middleweight, Gane impressed once again with his technique and composure, which is often a rarity in the heavyweight division. The No. 14 ranked prospect took the first round to feel out his opponent before turning the screw ever so slightly and securing the finish in the second.

As the second round progressed, Gane continued to land leg kicks to the midsection of “Cigano” before effectively closing the range and wobbling the Brazilian with a strong step-in jab. The rocked dos Santos backed up to the cage, and as he turned his back on his opponent ever so slightly, Gane landed a vicious elbow just behind the ear, which dropped the former champ and essentially ended the fight.

Gane put the icing on the cake with some ground and pound and went on to get his hand raised in the biggest fight of his young career so far. Improving to 7-0 (4-0 in the UFC), the Frenchman will very likely find himself inside the division’s Top 10 next week and is a dangerous name to look out for in 2021.


Another good fight card is in the books as the UFC continues to entertain us week after week during this tough period we’ve been in. Whether we are watching champions, former champions, title contenders, or up and comers, the UFC will continue to give us entertaining fight cards to enjoy.



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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos


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