- UFC Fight Night 169 takes place at Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia, this Saturday (Feb. 29) at 8:00 PM ET
- The vacant UFC flyweight title is on the line in the main event fight between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo
- This fight marks Benavidez’s fourth shot at a UFC/WEC title, and he is 0-3 in those fights
On Saturday, the UFC heads back to Norfolk, Virginia, for UFC Fight Night 169. The headlining bout sees Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo meet in a flyweight contest.
The most-recent UFC 125-pound title fight took place in January 2019 when Henry Cejudo defended the belt with a first-round TKO win over T.J. Dillashaw. Cejudo, who also owns the UFC bantamweight title, surrendered the flyweight belt in December. Benavidez is the No. 1-ranked flyweight according to the official UFC rankings, while Figueiredo checks in at No. 3.
UFC Fight Night 169 streams in its entirety on ESPN+. The main card begins at 8:00 PM ET following prelims, which start at 5:00 PM ET.
BENAVIDEZ VS FIGUEIREDO ODDS
FIGHT NIGHT 169 PREDICTION & PICK
This should be a fun flyweight scrap between two relatively evenly matched competitors. Both men can handle themselves on the feet as well as on the mat. They can also finish from either position.
The differences between the two are output, power and experience. Benavidez has a higher striking output, while power is in favor of Figueiredo. As for experience, Benavidez had 17 fights and one title shot before Figueiredo turned pro.
I think the more experienced fighter walks away from the fight with the belt.
Pick: Benavidez (-140)
Benavidez defeated Cejudo in 2016 and then took more than two years off to rehab an injured knee that required surgery. When he returned to action in 2018, he suffered his only loss to a man not named Dominick Cruz or Demetrious Johnson when he dropped a split decision to Sergio Pettis. That loss ended a six-fight winning streak. He has three victories since the Pettis setback with two knockout wins and two “Performance of the Night” bonus awards.
Figueiredo opened his career on a 15-0 run. His sole loss was a 2019 unanimous decision defeat to Jussier Formiga. Since that loss, he is 2-0 with a submission win over Tim Elliott in his most recent outing.
Benavidez’s most-recent knockout was a second-round stoppage of Formiga.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
As noted above, Figueiredo is the more powerful striker. Both of these flyweights have scored eight career knockout wins, but Figueiredo has reached that number in 18 fights while it’s taken Benavidez 33 outings.
With that being said, Benavidez is the much busier striker, which means there’s a good chance that Figueiredo won’t have an opportunity to set his feet and score an offensive finishing blow. When you couple that fact with Figueiredo’s rather paltry output, 104 significant strikes at distance, the advantage goes to Benavidez.
The wildcard in this contest is the fact that Benavidez knows that a loss here could cost him his chance at another title fight. That fact could work for him or against him, but he has been facing top-level talent since his WEC days more than 10 years ago so Benavidez is very familiar with pressure.
BETTING VALUE WITH BENAVIDEZ
There’s a chance that Figueiredo could score a counter knockout, he has scored five knockdowns in his UFC career, but Benavidez has only been knocked down twice in his past 10 fights, once by Cejudo and once by Johnson. Figueiredo is not up to par with either of those fighters. Johnson is the only man to score a knockout over Benavidez.
I also feel that Benavidez’s two knockout wins in his past three fights are an anomaly. Before those two stoppages, he only had three other knockouts in the UFC and the most recent of those was in 2013.
I expect this fight to go the 25-minute distance with Benavidez earning a decision victory.
FIGHT STATS: BENAVIDEZ VS FIGUEIREDO
|Joseph Benavidez||Category||Deiveson Figueiredo|
|3.45||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||2.44|
|2.52||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||2.40|
|1.53||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||1.78|
|0.60||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||2.4|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Benavidez is one of the best UFC/WEC fighters never to hold a title. He had opportunities to capture gold in 2010, 2012 and 2013. His record since his most recent title shot is 9-1. One of those victories was a split decision win over a pre-championship winning Cejudo. The fact that it took Benavidez more than six years to get back to a title fight tells you that if he loses on Saturday, his days of title shots are most likely at an end.
As for Figueiredo, this is his first title fight of any kind. With a record of 17-1, a loss to Benavidez should not prevent him from working himself back into the title picture.