Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The UFC wraps up a busy stretch at its unconventional (and brilliant) Fight Island in Abu Dhabi with its third card in a week on Saturday, headlined by a flyweight title fight and rematch between Brazil’s Deiveson Figueiredo and American Joseph Benavidez. The main card overall begins at 8 p.m. ET from the United Arab Emirates.
The flyweight title became vacant late December of last year when champion Henry Cejudo announced he was moving up full time to bantamweight – he would defend that belt in May with a win over Dominick Cruz but then shockingly retire.
Cejudo’s vacation of the flyweight belt came when a bout between Figueiredo and Benavidez was announced. They battled on Leap Day in UFC Fight Night 169 in Virginia, and Figueiredo won by second-round TKO (punches).
Alas, in the weigh-in prior to that fight, Figueiredo missed the 125-pound limit so his win left the flyweight title vacant. Benavidez would have been champion with a victory, and he was the -175 favorite with Figueiredo at +120. This time around, the Brazilian is -205 and the American +165.
The 35-year-old Figueiredo (18-1) has beaten all comers in his pro career other than a unanimous decision loss to Jussier Formiga in May 2019. Those two never fought again, and “Daico” never got a shot at Cejudo. Fifty percent of Figueiredo’s wins are by KO/TKO.
Benavidez (28-6), 35, had beaten Formiga by second-round TKO (head kick and punches) in his fight previous to the Figueiredo bout. Benavidez has never lost back-to-back fights but is now 0-for-3 in flyweight title bouts, losing to Demetrious Johnson in 2013 (by first-round KO) and 2012 (by split decision). Benavidez spreads his method of victory out, winning 11 times by decision, nine by submission and eight by KO/TKO.
There’s an excellent lead-in fight featuring Sweden’s Jack Hermansson (20-5) against American Kelvin Gastelum (15-5) in a middleweight bout.
Hermansson is ranked sixth in the division but had a four-fight winning streak snapped last time in the Octagon in September 2019, losing by second-round TKO (punches) to Jared Cannonier, who is the No. 3 middleweight. Most of Hermansson’s victories (55 percent) are by KO/TKO. He’s -110 for Saturday.
Gastelum, 28, is ranked seventh but trending the wrong way with back-to-back losses, albeit against stellar competition. He fought for the title against current champion Israel Adesanya in April 2019 and lost by unanimous decision and was then beaten the same way against Darren Till (ranked No. 5) in November. Gastelum is a -120 favorite for this bout.