UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2 (TV: ESPN/ESPN+)
Saturday, July 18th, Prelims 5:00 PM ET (ESPN/ESPN+), Main Card 8:00 PM ET (ESPN+), Yas Island, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)
Middleweight Fight: Jack Hermansson (20-5) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (16-5)
Fight odds: Jack Hermansson -115 Kelvin Gastelum -105
Flyweight Title Fight: Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) vs. Joseph Benavidez (28-6)
Fight odds: Deiveson Figueiredo -230 Joseph Benavidez +190
The UFC will once again hold a fight card from Abu Dhabi with UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2. The UFC is coming off two successful fight cards with UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal and UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Ige. Petr Yan, Alexander Volkanovski and Kamaru Usman were all victorious in their Title fights. Yan overwhelmed Jose Aldo in the 5th Round to get a TKO win as Aldo was covering up from some vicious ground and pound that Yan was unloading on his helpless opponent. The fight should’ve been stopped sooner and Yan made an emphatic statement to win the Bantamweight Title.
Volkanovski edged out a split decision win in a close fight that could’ve gone either way to retain his Featherweight Title. Volkanovski was able to land 3 takedowns on Max Holloway and out-strike him landing 139 total strikes. Holloway landed 111 total strikes in a competitive fight. Volkanovski is the more powerful striker because of his short, compact frame and he was able to land the bigger shots on the thinner and taller Holloway.
The Main Event was utter domination from Kamaru Usman against Jorge Masvidal as he was able to make it a grappling match and mitigate the strengths of Masvidal, not allowing him to engage in a standup battle. Masvidal got off to a decent start in the 1st Round, but he didn’t have the gas tank to push for 5 Rounds and that 20 pound weight cut really slowed Masvidal down as the fight went on. Usman landed 5 takedowns and had 16:38 of ground control time as he manhandled Masvidal and easily retained his Welterweight Title by unanimous decision.
Calvin Kattar used his reach and size advantages to keep Dan Ige on the outside with his excellent jab and utilized great takedown defense stuffing all 9 of Ige’s takedown attempts. Kattar landed 107 total strikes and overcame a compromised nose to earn a unanimous decision win against Ige. Kattar looks like a promising featherweight that could be pushing for a Title shot in the future. Kattar has great boxing skills and mixes up his striking well with some kicks and his solid takedown defense makes him a well rounded fighter.
The Co-Main Event this Saturday will be at middleweight (185 lbs.) between Jack Hermansson and Kelvin Gastelum. Hermansson is 32, 6’1 and 186 lbs. with a 77.5 inch reach. Gastelum is 28, 5’9 and 186 lbs. with a 71.5 inch reach. Both fighters are coming off losses and will be looking to get back on the winning track. Hermansson, a Norwegian fighter is 20-5 and is coming off a 2nd Round TKO loss to Jared Cannonier. Prior to that, Hermansson beat Jacare Souza by unanimous decision and David Branch by 1st Round submission. Hermansson is a talented wrestler that has 5 submission wins in his career and is a powerful fighter with great cardio. Hermansson should have the size, strength and wrestling advantages against Gastelum.
Gastelum will need to defend the takedowns well and try to keep this a stand up battle. The height and reach advantages for Hermansson may allow him to get the better of Gastelum as the fight goes to the later rounds. Gastelum is coming off two straight losses to Israel Adesanya and most recently a split decision loss to Darren Till. Both Adesanya and Till had the height and reach advantages on Gastelum and were able to use them to stay on the outside and mitigate a lot of Gastelum’s offense. The fight against Adesanya was an exciting fight, but it seemed to take a lot out of Gastelum. Hermansson will need to be wary of Gastelum’s power, who has 6 knockouts in his career. Hermansson has taken less damage in his career and his advantages in wrestling and strength should help him edge out a split decision victory against a tough opponent in Gastelum.
The Main Event will feature a rematch for the Flyweight Title at 125 lbs. between Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez. Figueiredo is 32, 5’5 and 125 lbs. with a 68 inch reach. Benavidez is 35, 5’4 and 125 lbs. with a 65 inch reach. Their first fight was supposed to be a Title fight, but Figueiredo missed weight making it a non Title fight. Figueiredo still won the fight by 2nd Round TKO after a violent head clash followed up by some punches to stop Benavidez. Figueiredo is the more powerful striker and should have the advantage in size, strength, wrestling and punching power. Benavidez may have the advantage in speed, but it will be difficult for him to last the full 5 Rounds against a bigger flyweight in Figueiredo.
Figueiredo has great knockout power with 9 knockout wins in his career and is also a talented wrestler with 6 career submission victories. Benavidez has an impressive record with his only losses coming to Dominick Cruz, Demetrious Johnson, Sergio Pettis and Deiveson Figueiredo. Figueiredo should once again get the knockout win against Benavidez. The knockout should come in the championship rounds as Benavidez will start to fade because of the pressure and size of Figueiredo. Tune in for a great night of fights on UFC Fight Island from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.