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PIERCE: UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez holds brutal submissions, Flyweight showcase

Photo: Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez meet in the center of the Octagon. (Thomas Gerbasi)

In one of the quickest cards of recent memory, UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez held three first-round submissions, including one for UFC gold.

A New Era

In a rematch for the ages, No. 1-ranked Deiveson Figueiredo was promoted to Flyweight champion for his win over No. 2 Joseph Benavidez.

Within the first 30 seconds, it was clear Figueiredo was in control. He stunned Benavidez with a huge right hook that knocked him off his feet. Once that landed, Figueiredo pounced on him and tried various submission maneuvers. However, Benavidez weathered the storm and scrambled back to his feet.

Unfortunately for him, Figueiredo dropped him with a right hook yet again. Then, it was just a matter of time before a new era of the Flyweight division would start.

With only 12 seconds left in the first round of the main event, Figueiredo became the new Flyweight champion via a rear-naked choke that put Benavidez out cold. Figueiredo was waiting for a tap, but his competitor lost consciousness before he could, forcing the referee to jump in and stop the bout.

“I feel really good,” Figueiredo said in the post-fight interview. “I worked really hard for this. This is my time. I am a ferocious guy in the Octagon. I wanted to come here and take this belt to my people.”

Saturday marked a new age in the Flyweight division. In the pair’s first matchup in February, Figueiredo missed weight so he was not eligible for the belt. Since he was able to finish Benavidez in the second round via TKO, the quest for the strap would have to wait. That is, until Saturday.

After the fight, Benavidez addressed the press in a very emotional state. Despite the devastating loss, he talked about how there is much more to this than winning fights as life is still going outside of the Octagon.

“To be able to do this is a blessing in itself,” Benavidez said in the post-fight press conference. “I am grateful for the opportunities. I sit here, humbled and impressed by him. Life comes at you fast.”

Contenders Open the Card

To open up the main card, two rising Flyweight contenders entered the Octagon.

No. 7 Askar Askarov upset No. 4 Alexandre Pantoja in a bout that went the distance and ended up in the hands of the judges.

The fight was close but when the final bell sounded, Askarov had the edge in strikes, significant strikes, and takedowns. The pair engaged in an intense grappling matchup right from the start. As things picked up on the feet and on the mat, neither could do enough to buy a finish.

With this victory, it is very likely that Askarov will jump up into the top five in the official UFC rankings.

Female Flyweights

Although it was the men’s Flyweight division that really soaked in the spotlight, Ariane Lipski defeated Luana Carolina in a Flyweight bout.

Lipski was able to secure one of the most vicious submissions of the night with a scary kneebar on her opponent. Carolina screamed in agony as her leg was bent the wrong way, causing her to tap out only 1:27 into the first round. This is already being talked about online as a “Submission of the Year” candidate.

Lipski’s performance was near perfect because her opponent only had time to land two strikes for the entirety of the short-lived bout.

The next UFC event will stay on Fight Island for a highly anticipated Middleweight bout between No. 1 Robert Whittaker and No. 5 Darren Till.

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