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Deiveson Figueiredo defiant in victory: ‘I am the champion’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Deiveson Figueiredo doesn’t have the UFC flyweight title around his waist but he still believes he’s the real champion.

The hard-hitting Brazilian capped off UFC Norfolk on Saturday night with a stunning second round knockout to finish Joseph Benavidez in the main event. Unfortunately, Figueiredo failed to make weight for the fight, which meant only Benavidez was eligible to win the title.

Now the flyweight division remains in limbo with a vacant title still hanging in the balance but Figueiredo defiantly declared himself the real champion following his impressive victory over Benavidez.

“I came out with the win, I’m super happy,” Figueiredo said during the UFC post fight show on ESPN+. “I knocked out the No. 1 [contender] and I’m the champion. I’m the champion.

“I want to fight for the belt since I left without it tonight. I want a new opportunity to fight for it because I’m the champion.”

While it was an impressive victory, Figueiredo failing to make championship weight leaves a dark cloud hanging over the 125-pound division with barely enough fighters on the roster to maintain the top 15 rankings.

He apologized profusely for missing the mark on Friday but Figueiredo was still happy that he was able put on a show for the audience that witnessed his performance in the main event.

“I owe fans this show,” Figueiredo said. “I said I would go in there to knock this guy out tonight. This knockout was an apology to the public. I failed because of what happened in the past, but came here to knock this guy out and I fulfilled my promise.”

Figueiredo also addressed the accidental clash of heads that happened with Benavidez just seconds before the fight came to a close.

Benavidez seemingly got the worst of the impact after he pulled away from a fiery exchange with a cut on his forehead that immediately began gushing blood. Figueiredo then followed up with a devastating right hand that put Benavidez down for the final time.

“I knew that if my hand landed on him I would knock him out,” Figueiredo said. “I don’t remember any [clash of heads]. It was my hand that really landed. He went down and I knocked him out, closed the coffin.”

UFC officials have yet to address what will happen with the flyweight title now that the division is without a champion.

For his part, Figueiredo is ready to face whoever the UFC throws at him but it remains to be seen if he’ll get the chance to compete for gold again or not.

“I’m here for anything the promotion and Dana White wants,” Figueiredo said. “Whoever they put for me, I’ll fight. If he puts me to fight again this month, I’m in. I want to fight.