UFC Fight Night 172: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2 Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Jake RillSenior Analyst IIIJuly 18, 2020

Joseph Benavidez celebrates after defeating John Moraga in their flyweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 187 on Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

When Henry Cejudo announced his retirement following UFC 249, his bantamweight title was vacated. A little more than four months before that, though, he had been a double champion, but he vacated the flyweight title to focus solely on defending his other championship.

Since Cejudo relinquished the UFC flyweight championship in December, it's been vacant. But on Saturday, either Deiveson Figueiredo or Joseph Benavidez will become only the third man to ever hold that title, as the two flyweights will main event UFC Fight Night 172, set to take place at UFC's Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Demetrious Johnson and Cejudo are the only two men to be UFC's flyweight champion, so either Figueiredo or Benavidez will be joining illustrious company.

Here's a look at Saturday's full card, along with odds, followed by predictions for the top fights.

       

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Main Card (ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)

Deiveson Figueiredo (-240; bet $240 to win $100) vs. Joseph Benavidez (+200; bet $100 to win $200)

Jack Hermansson (-105) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (-115)

Marc Diakiese (-160) vs. Rafael Fiziev (+140)

Ariane Lipski (-115) vs. Luana Carolina (-105)

Alexandre Pantoja (-180) vs. Askar Askarov (+160)

     

Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 5 p.m. et)

Khadis Ibragimov (+145) vs. Roman Dolidze (-165)

Grant Dawson (-220) vs. Nad Narimani (+185)

Joseph Duffy (-335) vs. Joel Alvarez (+275)

Brett Johns (+180) vs. Montel Jackson (-210)

Malcolm Gordon (+140) vs. Amir Albazi (-160)

Davi Ramos (+175) vs. Arman Tsarukyan (-200)

Sergey Spivak (-170) vs. Carlos Felipe (+150)

Odds obtained via Caesars Palace

     

UFC Fight Night 172 Predictions

Figueiredo beats Benavidez again, winning the title this time

In February, Figueiredo and Benavidez were set to face off for the vacant UFC flyweight championship. However, Figueiredo missed weight for the fight and became ineligible to win the title. He defeated Benavidez via second-round TKO, but the championship remained vacant.

This time, a champion will be decided as both fighters made weight ahead of Saturday's event. And that's likely going to lead to Figueiredo becoming a champion for the first time in his professional MMA career.

Benavidez has been a strong competitor in UFC's flyweight division since it started. He fought in the inaugural title bout at UFC 152 in September 2012, losing to Johnson, who later beat Benavidez again during his impressive reign. But Figueiredo has been dominant since joining UFC in 2017, improving to 18-1 with his victory over Benavidez in February.

Figueiredo's only professional loss came against Jussier Formiga in March 2019, and he still went the distance in the three-round fight, losing by unanimous decision. He's since bounced back with three consecutive victories, with each of his last two ending within the first seven minutes.

Expect a more competitive fight than last time, as Benavidez likely made some adjustments to his game plan that will help him go the full five rounds. But Figueiredo will prove he's the better fighter and be in control for more of the fight, leading to his first title victory.

Prediction: Figueiredo via decision

       

Gastelum bounces back, wins competitive fight

Steve Luciano/Associated Press

Jack Hermansson and Kelvin Gastelum are the Nos. 6 and 7 ranked middleweights in the UFC, respectively, they each lost their last fight and they're both going to be in action for the first time in 2020. But getting a victory here could start a run for either Hermansson or Gastelum that could get them closer to a title fight down the line.

Gastelum faced middleweight champion Israel Adesanya for the vacant title at UFC 236 and lost by unanimous decision. He returned to the Octagon a little less than seven months later at UFC 244 and lost to Darren Till via split decision. It's the only time in Gastelum's pro MMA career that he's lost consecutive fights.

Last September, Hermansson lost to Jared Cannonier via second-round TKO. But he had won his four previous fights, which included a pair of first-round submission victories over Gerald Meerschaert and David Branch, and was likely getting closer to a title shot before his setback against Cannonier.

Whether Hermansson or Gastelum get a championship opportunity anytime in the near future could hinge strongly on the result of this fight, which is likely to be a competitive bout between middleweights who have never previously met in the Octagon.

However, it will be Gastelum who bounces back, denying the majority of Hermansson's takedown attempts and landing enough big strikes to secure a victory and return to his winning ways.

Prediction: Gastelum via decision

      

Diakiese continues resurgence with another win

John Locher/Associated Press

Marc Diakiese began his professional MMA career with 12 consecutive victories, which included his first three UFC bouts. However, he then went through a rough patch, losing three straight fights to Drakkar Klose, Dan Hooker and Nasrat Haqparast between July 2017 and July 2018.

Since then, though, Diakiese has bounced back, notching wins in his last two fights against Joseph Duffy and Lando Vannata, both by unanimous decision, to improve to 14-3. He'll now look to continue that winning streak against Rafael Fiziev, a strong kickboxer who should be a quality opponent.

Fiziev is 7-1 in his professional career, but this will be only his third UFC fight. He lost his debut to Magomed Mustafaev in April 2019, then bounced back with a victory over Alex White six months later.

However, Diakiese's experience with more UFC fights against strong competition should allow him to defeat the underdog Fiziev. Diakiese will use his height and reach advantages over Fiziev to control the fight, and he should prevent it from going the distance, likely finding a way to put Fiziev away via TKO in the final round.

There are a lot of strong fighters in the lightweight division, but with another victory, Diakiese may prove he's worthy of a bout against a ranked competitor. And if he can keep the momentum going, perhaps he'll start climbing up the division himself.

Prediction: Diakiese via TKO in third round

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