By News Team
20th November 2020
The UFC’s penultimate pay-per-view of a mammoth 2020 comes from the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.
The flyweight divisions will take centre stage as newly crowned men’s champion Deiveson Figueiredo defends his belt for the first time against Alex Perez and women’s queen Valentina Shevchenko defends against upcomer Jennifer Maia.
With the likes of Mike Perry, Mauricio Rua and Katlyn Chookagian also featuring on the main card, it’s set to be a thrilling night of combat. We preview the best of the action.
Deiveson Figueiredo v Alex Perez
An often maligned division in the UFC rankings, Henry ‘Triple C’ Cejudo’s decision to retire and vacate his flyweight belt has brought the flyweight rankings to life. While Dana White once questioned the necessity of a men’s flyweight division, he now has a host of contenders ready to step up and face off with the new champion.
Deiveson Figueiredo claimed the belt at the second time of asking against veteran Joseph Benavidez, after the first fight was hamstrung with several issues, including Figueiredo failing to make championship weight. The second fight was dominated by Figueiredo though, dropping Benavidez three times in round one, before submitting him with just over four minutes on the clock. An accomplished striker, with slick feints, Figueiredo is perfectly comfortable on the ground too, with three submissions victories under his belt in the UFC.
Although former champion Cody Garbrandt was scheduled for this fight, his injury has provided an opportunity for Alex Perez. It will also be a big moment for White, as his Contender Series produces its first UFC championship contender. Perez is on a three-fight win streak, including particularly impressive first-round wins over Jordan Espinosa and Jussier Formiga (who has a win against Figueiredo under his belt) in his last two trips to the octagon.
With both men possessing energetic and high-level striking, expect this one to go off at a fast pace and only get faster. Figueiredo is currently 1/3 to retain his belt, with Perez 23/10 to win, but don’t be surprised if this one doesn’t go the distance.
Valentina Shevchenko v Jennifer Maia
Perhaps in any other generation of fighters, Valentina Shevchenko would likely be known as the baddest woman on the planet. As it is, Shevchenko has been forced to live in Amanda Nunes’ shadow somewhat since her rise to UFC prominence.
Despite this, Shevchenko is the third ranked female fighter in UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings and goes into Saturday night looking to defend her flyweight crown for the fourth time.
Her opponent, Jennifer Maia, took her unexpected opportunity earlier in the year, beating then presumed number one contender Joanne Calderwood in emphatic style back in August. Her ability on the ground is arguably her best chance at landing a shock win against Shevchenko, who has debatably never faced an opponent so well-versed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Shevchenko’s tactics therefore will likely be to outstrike her opponent and only go to the ground if she can guarantee top-position dominance. However, should the fight go to the ground early, don’t be surprised to see the champion in an uncompromising position.