VSiN’s MMA expert takes a deep dive into one of the top undercard matches on Saturday’s UFC 263 card in Glendale, Ariz.

Deiveson Figueiredo (-225) vs. Brandon Moreno (+175), flyweight (125 pounds) championship

This is a rematch of a December 2020 fight in which Moreno was on his way to a clear advantage when Figueiredo landed a flush “south of the border shot” that was so bad that Moreno was dry-heaving in the octagon.

That low blow allowed Figueiredo time to recover and overcome the deduction in points he incurred from that action to save his title by the draw decision.

Figueiredo, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, is a huge man for the division and even larger come the night of the bout. Figueiredo is lightning fast, ultra-aggressive and profusely powerful. Fists, elbows, knees and head kicks are all available weapons, so count on him attempting to use all of that to finish Moreno. On the feet or on the floor, Figueiredo is equipped to destroy.

Moreno won’t sneak up on Figueiredo this time, and for the record I don’t think he surprised Figueiredo in that first bout. I think he surprised those in the MMA world that were unaware of Moreno’s abilities.

Figueiredo knows he’s in for an all-out war Saturday, and how he has balanced being champion against preparing for this rematch the past six months is the key to this outcome. Any lack of focus during training or the night of the fight may cost Figueiredo.

Moreno is the taller fighter by 2 inches, he’s 27, six years younger than the champ, and he’ll own a 2-inch arm reach advantage. Figueiredo has fought 10 times since 2017, and in all but one of those matchups he’s been the taller, longer, larger fighter. Moreno’s physical attributes coupled with his style of fighting put him in position to again challenge Figueiredo and take him deep into this bout to test his heart and more importantly … his conditioning.

Moreno, a Mexican fighter, is an accumulation striker who damages opponents over the course of time with high pace and striking volume. He does not have Figueiredo’s power, but he is athletic, well-rounded, and he’s been in the octagon with the top flyweight fighters in the world. Then there’s Moreno’s personality. Most fighters are a little “off,” but in Moreno’s case he has the look of a guy who may not care if you crack him on the noggin or not. This makes him mighty dangerous.

The weigh-ins for this bout are critical, because Figueiredo has had trouble on the scale. I’m looking for any hint of that Friday. If Figueiredo makes weight easily, I’ll be forced to handicap this bout knowing that I give Moreno every chance in the world to defeat the champion albeit a champion fully prepared to defend his title, which is daunting.

If Figueiredo struggles before or while he’s on the scale, I’ll use that information in order to immediately gain every advantage on Moreno. I do suspect that Figueiredo’s fight preparation may well have been interrupted once or twice by championship distractions during these past six months, while I know that all Moreno has done since these two last fought is work to become the first UFC champion of Mexico.

One last note. This fight is in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, where the population of Latino Americans is high. They’ll be in attendance Saturday passionately supporting Moreno, the fighter from just the other side of the Mexican border.

Lean Moreno, pending weigh-ins, of course.

In Friday’s Bet Smart, Lou Finocchiaro handicaps the main event between Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori.



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