UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More
The UFC's flyweight divisions will have a rare moment in the spotlight as both the men's and women's 125-pound titles are on the line at UFC 255 from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
Deiveson Figueiredo will put his belt on the line against Alex Perez in the main event. It will be his first title defense since taking the vacated title by virtue of his second win over Joseph Benavidez.
On the women's side Valentina Shevchenko is a much more established champion. She's already defended her title three times, is going for a fourth and hasn't been beaten in the weight class yet. Jennifer Maia will attempt to pull the upset but she has an uphill battle ahead.
The card also features appearances from Mike Perry, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Joaquin Buckley. It isn't the strongest card but figures to bring the excitement and finishes are likely to follow.
Here's what the whole offering looks like along with the biggest storylines heading into the night.
Fight Card and TV Schedule
Main Card (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV)
- Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs. Alex Perez: flyweight title
- Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Jennifer Maia: flyweight title
- Mike Perry vs. Tim Means
- Cynthia Calvillo vs. Katlyn Chookagian
- Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Paul Craig
Prelims (8 p.m. ET on ESPN+/ESPN2)
- Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval
- Joaquin Buckley vs. Jordan Wright
- Ariane Lipski vs. Antonina Shevchenko
- Nicolas Dalby vs. Daniel Rodriguez
Early Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+/ESPN2)
- Jared Gooden vs. Alan Jouban
- Kyle Daukaus vs. Dustin Stoltzfus
- Louis Cosce vs. Sasha Palatnikov
Will Deiveson Figueiredo Be a Dominant Champion?
Figueiredo has long been a scary opponent in the flyweight division. Will that translate into being a dominant champion, though?
The Brazilian's only loss came against Jussier Formiga in a unanimous decision but he's rebounded to win four straight fights. Three of those wins have come by either TKO or submission with two of those coming against a longtime contender in Benavidez.
But the Formiga fight laid out a blueprint for beating the new champion. He great job of staying on the outside in the striking game, tying him up when the range shortened, getting the fight to the mat and staying on top.
That's easier said than done but it's a method that challengers will try to repeat.
Perez has the tools to apply the lessons learned from Formiga. He's a strong wrestler, has good leg kicks and is slick on the mat with submission. If he can find a way to get the fight on the ground he could be dangerous.
This fight will reveal just how dominant Figueiredo can be. If he runs right through Perez it's hard to come up with flyweights who can test him.
Prediction: Figueiredo via first-round TKO
Can Jennifer Maia Actually Threaten Shevchenko?
Jennifer Maia is saying all the things she is supposed to as a massive underdog fighting a dominant champion.
“I’m a complete fighter,” Maia told the media, per MMAjunkie. “I want to fight and demonstrate how I’m superior (to other contenders). It’s difficult to say how this fight is going to go. She has a lot of experience, but I’m ready to fight wherever the fight goes and bring this belt to Brazil.”
Confidence is great and she should absolutely be saying whatever she needs to prepare herself for the biggest fight of her career. But calling herself superior to other contenders is just nice self-talk. Her resume tells a different story.
She is 3-2 in her last five fights with just one finish—a first-round armbar win over Joanne Calderwood. The losses came by decision to Katlyn Chookagian and Liz Carmouche.
Chookagian was able to outstrike her consistently on the feet. Carmouche was able to wrestle her to death.
Shevchenko is a better striker than Chookagian and may be a better grappler than Carmouche. This isn't going to go well.
Prediction: Shevchenko via unanimous decision
Does Joaquin Buckley Have Another Highlight in Him?
With one kick, Joaquin Buckley went viral and set himself up with a huge opportunity. Buckley delivered the knockout of the year when he landed a spinning back kick with his right foot while his opponent was holding on to a caught kick with his left.
It is the most viewed, retweeted and liked video the UFC has ever posted on Twitter.
How does one follow that up? There's little chance he's able to do anything to match that. Ever.
There is a chance for Buckley to keep his stock rising and raise his profile with another destructive win, though.
He'll get the opportunity to do it, too. His opponent, Jordan Wright, is technically undefeated but was knocked out by Anthony Hernandez on Dana White's Contender Series before the fight was turned into a No Contest because Hernandez tested positive for marijuana.
Buckley is a much more powerful and dynamic athlete than Hernandez and this feels like a fight designed to give Buckley a chance to shine.
Prediction: Buckley via second-round TKO