Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The small weight classes don’t often headline UFC main cards, but that is the case for UFC 255 on Saturday night from the organization’s Apex facility in Las Vegas as flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo defends his belt against Alex Perez. The main card begins at 10 p.m. ET and is available on pay-per-view.
This originally was to feature Figueiredo against former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (he’s currently the fourth-ranked bantamweight), but Garbrandt had to pull out in early October due to injury. Perez was already on the card to face Brandon Moreno but now gets a shot at the title.
The 32-year-old Figueiredo, from MMA-crazy Brazil, is 19-1 in his professional career with that lone loss in March 2019 via unanimous decision to Jussier Formiga. “Daico” has won four straight since. He faced Joseph Benavidez for the vacant flyweight title in February and beat Benavidez by second-round TKO (punches).
However, “Daico” wasn’t technically the champion because he was over the weight limit at the weigh-in. Had Benavidez won, he would have claimed the belt, but Figueiredo was ineligible and had to forfeit a chunk of his purse. The two had an immediate rematch in July and Figueiredo officially became champion with a first-round technical submission (rear-naked choke). Thus, Saturday will be his first title defense. Figueiredo is a -305 favorite.
Perez is a 28-year-old American who is 24-5 and ranked fourth in the division, so he’s not simply some tomato can fill-in. His only lost in the past 12 bouts was via first-round TKO to Benavidez in “The Ultimate Fighter 28” season finale in November 2018. However, Perez comes off a June first-round TKO victory over Formiga, the guy who beat Figueiredo. Perez is priced +235, the biggest he has been an underdog by far in the UFC.
There is also a women’s flyweight title bout as Valentina Shevchenko defends her belt against Jennifer Maia. The UFC ranks Shevchenko as the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter behind the other two female champions, Amanda Nunes and Weili Zhang.
The 32-year-old Shevchenko, from Peru, is 19-3 – two of those losses to Nunes – and has won five straight. “Bullet” is a huge -1800 favorite. Maia (18-6) is from Brazil and also 32. She is ranked third in the flyweight division. Maia comes off a first-round submission win over Joanne Calderwood in August and is a +850 underdog for Saturday.