Joseph Benavidez will take his third shot at winning the UFC flyweight title on Saturday, when he faces off against No. 3 contender Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant belt at UFC Fight Night 169.
Benavidez enters the Octagon as the -145 favorite on Saturday, according to PointsBet, though Figueiredo (+116) is certainly a live dog in what figures to be an action-packed fight.
Calm Atmosphere Welcomed Ahead of Title Fight
Benavidez twice fought Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight belt. He was in the first title fight in the division, losing to Johnson in 2012. A rematch took place in 2013, with Johnson winning again.
Those fights came with a lot of hype. It was the early days of UFC’s flyweight division, and Johnson would become a legendary champion. This time, Benavidez sees fewer distractions standing between him and a title.
This camp has been great because it’s normal,” Benavidez said, via Yahoo Sports. “The best way to say it is ‘a title’s on the line,’ and people want to say that. But I look at it like it’s just another fight. Because I’m not obsessed about a title or anything like I used to be.”
The fight could have taken on more of a circus atmosphere had Benavidez fought Henry Cejudo. Benavidez got the best of Cejudo in their first meeting, winning by split decision back in 2016. But Cejudo relinquished his flyweight belt to focus on the bantamweight division instead.
“It’s honestly refreshing,” Benavidez told reporters. “It’s nice. I think it would just be a circus with ‘Triple C,’ and not to mention, I already beat him and fought him, and the goal is to win a title, not to beat a guy you’ve already beat.”
Figueiredo Ineligible for Title After Missing Weight
For Figueiredo, fighting for a legitimate championship was a pleasant surprise this weekend. But the Brazilian will be ineligible for the title after weighing in at 127.5 pounds on Friday, 2.5 pounds over the flyweight limit.
While the fight will still take place, only Benavidez can win the title belt, and Figueiredo will forfeit 30 percent of his purse to his opponent.
He described to his doctor what he was feeling and his doctor told him to be careful and not cut any more weight,” Figueiredo manager Wallid Ismail told BJPenn.com. “It was a medical issue. He’s never missed weight in his entire career before this and he apologizes.”
This promises to be a fight where both competitors have a very clear path to victory. Figueiredo could blow away Benavidez with an early knockout, while the American’s best chance is in a longer fight, in which he can win by decision or catch his opponent taking too many risks while seeking a finish.
Spencer Gets Showcase in Co-Main Event
While there aren’t many notable contenders on the card outside of the feature bout, the co-main event is still a fight to watch. The women’s featherweight battle sees Felicia Spencer (-769) take on Zarah Fairn Dos Santos (+500).
Spencer is 7-1, losing only to Cristiane Justino in a clear but competitive loss. The Canadian stands as one of the more promising prospects in the featherweight division. She should outclass dos Santos, who lost her first UFC fight in October by first-round submission to Megan Anderson.
This fight may not be the most competitive contest, but it’s an important showcase for Spencer. Should she win in impressive fashion, the 29-year-old American may be well on her way to eventually getting a title shot against reigning featherweight champion Amanda Nunes.