Deiveson Figueiredo submits Alex Perez in 1st to defend UFC flyweight title

 espn.com  11/22/2020 07:35:43 
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Rogan: Figueiredo is a 'spectacular' mixed martial artist (0:43)

Joe Rogan is high on Deiveson Figueiredo's performance after a first-round finish of Alex Perez at UFC 255. (0:43)

1:31 AM ET

The UFC's flyweight division, once maligned for having fighters too small and bouts that were too dull, has been completely turned on its head by the man nicknamed "God of War."

Deiveson Figueiredo finished Alex Perez via guillotine choke at 1 minute, 57 seconds of the first round Saturday night to retain the UFC flyweight title in the main event of UFC 255 in Las Vegas.

The incredibly fast, explosive Figueiredo found Perez's neck in a scramble, locked in the choke and squeezed until Perez tapped out. It was Figueiredo's first title defense.

"I came to the flyweight division to knock out, to submit everybody," Figueiredo said. "To bring back the excitement, show the world the power of the flyweight division. I always thought I was gonna save this weight class, because people don't know my power."

In 2017 and 2018, there were whispers that the UFC could abolish the flyweight division. The UFC traded Demetrious Johnson, whom many consider the greatest flyweight of all time, to Asia's ONE Championship in 2018, seemingly signifying the final days of the division.

But Figueiredo and his dynamic, all-action style has reinvigorated the 125-pound weight class.

"If you don't like this guy, stop watching fights," UFC president Dana White said. "You need to find a new hobby if you don't like watching him.

"Obviously I'm glad we didn't [get rid of flyweight]. The division needed a little bit of rebuilding. We rebuilt it, and this is the result."

White said at the postfight news conference that Figueiredo will not return to Brazil after this fight and will instead stay in Las Vegas to defend his title again in December. The plan, White said, is to have Figueiredo fight top contender Brandon Moreno, who beat Brandon Royval in the UFC 255 prelims.

Sources confirmed to ESPN's Ariel Helwani early Sunday that Figueiredo and Moreno had verbally agreed to fight at UFC 256 on Dec. 12.

Figueiredo asked for Moreno in his postfight interview.

"Dana, make this happen," Figueiredo said. "That's the fight that I want to happen."

Figueiredo vs. Perez was an absolute sprint. Perez landed a hard body kick and then shot in for a takedown on Figueiredo, who defended well. Figueiredo attempted to dive for a leg lock off the takedown attempt. Perez scrambled out of trouble, but in the transition Figueiredo latched on to a guillotine choke. It seemed Perez was close to slipping his head out, but then he had to tap.

"That position is my 'A-B-C' -- I started training in that position," Figueiredo said through an interpreter in his postfight interview. "That was the biggest mistake he could do, and that was the biggest mistake a man can make in the Octagon."

Going in, ESPN had Figueiredo ranked No. 2 (behind Johnson) and Perez at No. 5 in the world at flyweight. ESPN also has Figueiredo ranked No. 8 in the world in its pound-for-pound rankings.

The UFC 255 card took place in front of no fans at the UFC Apex, a facility across the street from the promotion's corporate campus.

Figueiredo's manager, Wallid Ismail, said at the postfight news conference that Figueiredo was "very disappointed" he didn't win a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus Saturday night. Ismail said Figueiredo was so upset that he wanted to return to Brazil, but that he has since calmed down and will likely stay to fight Moreno.

"I think we're gonna stay here," Ismail said. "We're gonna fight on the Dec. 12 card and put on another show."

Figueiredo (20-1) beat Joseph Benavidez via first-round submission in July to win the flyweight title. It was his second consecutive victory over Benavidez, but the title was not on the line in February because Figueiredo missed weight.

Figueiredo, 32, has won five straight fights and is 9-1 in the UFC. The Brazilian slugger has 17 stoppages in 20 pro wins, dispelling the notion that flyweights don't finish fights. This was Figueiredo's seventh UFC flyweight finish, which ties Johnson for the most ever.

Perez (24-6) had won three straight and 11 of his previous 12. The Californian was filling in Saturday for the injured Cody Garbrandt, the former bantamweight champion who was supposed to move to flyweight and challenge Figueiredo at UFC 255.

Perez, 28, was coming off a first-round TKO of Jussier Formiga via leg kicks at UFC 250 in June.

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