Weekend Warrior: Flyweight Vacancy at UFC Norfolk
The shadows of Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo no longer hang over the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightest weight class. The fate of the vacant flyweight title will hang in the balance when Joseph Benavidez faces Deiveson Figueiredo in the UFC Fight Night 169 main event on Saturday at Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia. The 125-pound throne now sits empty, as Cejudo stepped aside and relinquished his championship to focus on his bantamweight pursuits.
Cover Photo: Jeff Bottari / Contributor (Getty Images)
Joseph Benavidez punches Alex Perez. Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)
Benavidez finds himself in the midst of an always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride career. The 35-year-old San Antonio native has fought for the undisputed flyweight championship on two occasions, losing a split decision to the aforementioned Johnson in September 2012 before being knocked out by “Mighty Mouse” in their rematch a little more than a year later. Benavidez has compiled a stellar 9-1 record since his ill-fated second encounter with Johnson, a split decision defeat to Sergio Pettis his only misstep. He last competed at UFC on ESPN 3 in June, when he cut down Jussier Formiga with a second-round head kick and follow-up punches.
Figueiredo, 32, enters the most significant fight of his career on the heels of back-to-back victories. He last appeared at UFC Fight Night 161, where he submitted The Ultimate Fighter season 24 winner Tim Elliott with a guillotine choke 3:08 into their Oct. 12 showdown. A dynamic offensive competitor, Figueiredo has delivered 14 of his 17 professional wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. He owns a 6-1 record since joining the UFC roster in 2017, a decision loss to Formiga in March marking his only setback inside the Octagon.
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Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil. Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)
UFC Fight Night “Benavidez vs. Figueiredo”—which streams to ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT—will also feature a light heavyweight battle matching Ion Cutelaba with Magomed Ankalaev, a featherweight tilt pitting Grant Dawson against Darrick Minner and a pair of women’s featherweight scraps, as Felicia Spencer meets Zarah Fairn dos Santos and Megan Anderson confronts the unbeaten Norma Dumont Viana. In addition, ESPN+ will carry the entire seven-fight undercard at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.