UFC 256: Figueiredo vs. Moreno Odds, Schedule, Predictions and Fight Hype

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2020

UFC 256: Figueiredo vs. Moreno Odds, Schedule, Predictions and Fight Hype

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    Leo Correa/Associated Press

    Deiveson Figueiredo is wasting no time in his campaign to establish dominance over the UFC's flyweight division. Just three weeks after defending his title against Alex Perez at UFC 255, he will put it on the line again against Brandon Moreno in the main event of UFC 256. 

    Figueiredo defeated Perez with a guillotine choke in just under two minutes to win his first official title defense. Now he'll see a challenger in Moreno who is 4-0-1 in his last five fights. 

    The co-main event features the return of Tony Ferguson in a lightweight bout against Charles Oliveira. Ferguson had his 12-fight win streak unceremoniously snapped by Justin Gaethje in his last fight. Now he'll look to salvage some of his momentum against Oliveira, who is on a seven-win run. 

    It's a lightweight bout that could well determine who is in the next lightweight title fight. With Khabib Nurmagomedov walking away from the sport, the division is wide open and both Ferguson and Oliveira have strong resumes. 

    Here's a look at the complete card, the latest odds and fight hype for the biggest bouts on the schedule.

Fight Card and Odds

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Main Card (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV)

    • Deiveson Figueiredo (c) (-335) vs. Brandon Moreno (+250): Flyweight Championship 
    • Tony Ferguson (-175) vs. Charles Oliveira (+138)
    • Renato Moicano (+120) vs. Rafael Fiziev (-155)
    • Kevin Holland (-124) vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (+100)
    • Junior dos Santos (+300) vs. Ciryl Gane (-400)

    Prelims (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN+)

    • Cub Swanson (+127) vs. Daniel Pineda (-159)
    • Mackenzie Dern (-186) vs. Virna Jandiroba (+148)
    • Gavin Tucker (+123) vs. Billy Quarantillo (-155)
    • Tecia Torres (N/A) vs. Sam Hughes (N/A)

    Early Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+, UFC Fight Pass)

    • Sergey Spivak (-230) vs. Jared Vanderaa (+180)
    • Chase Hooper (-400) vs. Peter Barrett (+295)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

Figueiredo Has Eyes Set on Fighter of the Year

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    Leo Correa/Associated Press

    Figueiredo has had a career-defining year in 2020. He fought for the flyweight title twice and won both times. He didn't actually get the belt the first time he beat Joseph Benavidez because he missed weight, but he got the strap when he won the rematch with another first-round submission. 

    To recap, the Brazilian is now 3-0 with all three fights for a championship, and he earned the finish in all three of them. Now he's looking to add one more bullet point to his resume before closing out the year.

    "It's amazing to me, everything I was able to do this year and everything that happened," Figueiredo said, per Ben Fowlkes of The Athletic. "Hopefully I win this fight and defend my belt again and then I'm in talks for the fighter of the year. That's going to mean a lot to me."

    It would be a foregone conclusion for the champion to win the award if he beats Moreno. No one has been as busy and successful this year. Khamzat Chimaev was a breakout fighter but didn't have a crowning achievement, while Israel Adesanya turned in two strong performances but only fought twice. 

    Moreno isn't an easy out, though. His first-round knockout of Brandon Royval at UFC 255 speaks to his power, and he's a dangerous submission artist himself with 10 subs in his career. So it won't be easy for Figueiredo to put another submission victim on his record. 

    This one should be fun, but Figueiredo's striking could carry the day. 

    Prediction: Figueiredo via decision

Oliveira Ready to Prove No. 1 Contender Status

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Before Ferguson had his winning streak snapped, he was the unofficial No. 1 contender in the division for a long time. Only injuries and unfortunate timing kept him from actually fighting for the belt. 

    Now he gets an opponent in Oliveira that would allow him to get right back to the front of the line. But Do Bronx would like to note that he's undeniably the best candidate to fight for the title with a win in the co-main event. 

    "Winning this fight I'll be the next challenger, no doubt," he said, per Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting. "Seven wins in a row at the moment. It will be eight after this, and I don't plan on leaving it in the judges' hands. It will be eight finishes in a row. There's no way I have to wait. I'm the next challenger."

    Who that fight will be against is still to be decided. Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after a win over Gaethje at UFC 254, but the promotion has yet to strip him of the belt officially, so things are in a state of flux right now. 

    Regardless, Oliveira is in the middle of the hottest streak of his career. He's won each of the seven fights in his run by knockout or submission. How he'll handle Ferguson's aggression, volume and unpredictability will be interesting though. None of Do Bronx's wins have come against someone like the 36-year-old. 

    Gaethje was able to stun Ferguson by fighting pressure with pressure and simply beating him to the punch. Do Bronx's standup isn't on that level, and El Cucuy has the grappling to stay out of dangerous situations. 

    Prediction: Ferguson via decision

Holland Already Building Toward Adesanya Fight

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The road to a quick ascension in the UFC relies on two things: Finish fights and draw as much attention to yourself as possible. 

    Kevin Holland has taken care of the first one. He's 7-1 since losing his UFC debut to Thiago Santos in 2018, and he's won three of his last four by TKO. 

    He's starting to take care of the second condition, dropping Israel Adesanya's name in the buildup to his main-card bout with Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. 

    "He's obviously been thinking about me for a while," Holland said of Adesanya, per Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports. "I saw him and he walked up to me and reached his hand out and said, 'Yo, Mr. Holland.' When I walked away, he was telling everybody, 'That’s the guy I was telling you about.' I don’t get that. I mean, if you're the king of the division, quote-unquote, and you're the guy who is on top, what the hell are you worried about a guy who's not even in the top 15, top 20."

    The last bit about not being ranked is already a bit off. He's ranked No. 15 in the UFC rankings, and a win over a veteran such as Jacare will surely see that number change.

    Souza isn't what he used to be, but he's still a dangerous opponent. He is coming off a split-decision loss to Jan Blachowicz at light heavyweight. Blachowicz is now the champion of the 205-pound division. 

    Still, this feels like a spot for Holland to show off his skills against a 41-year-old with name recognition. 

    Prediction: Holland via decision


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