Deiveson Figueiredo had just defended his UFC flyweight belt with a first-round finish and agreed to a three-week turnaround when his agent Wallid Ismail managed to sign his older brother, Francisco Figueiredo, to the UFC.
It sure felt like the company was doing Deiveson a favor, like a thank you note for saving a pay-per-view on such short notice. Francisco gets that, but he vows to prove in the cage that he’s UFC material, starting with a UFC Fight Island 8 clash with Jerome Rivera.
“I never wanted to get in [the UFC] just because of him – I wanted to get here because I deserved to be here, and I’ll prove I deserve it,” Francisco said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I’ll get there and show my worth in this division. They all have to be alert because I’m going there to finish these guys.”
Deiveson reigns as the flyweight champion after going undefeated in four fights in 2020. Francisco will be part of the same weight class after competing as a bantamweight his entire career on the Brazilian circuit. He’s much taller than the flyweight king, but he said cutting to 125 pounds “is very easy.”
“To get to [Deiveson], they are going to get through me first,” he said of fellow UFC flyweights.
The 31-year-old UFC newcomer, a former Jungle Fight champion with a record of 11-3-1-1, was fairly surprised when he found out he was signing with the company without having to go through Dana White’s Contender Series or The Ultimate Fighter.
“We were expecting to sign with the UFC for a while now, and then Wallid called me telling me to start training because I was going to fight in the Contender,” Francisco Figueiredo said. “He called me again a week later, all hyped up, saying I was going to fight on the ‘Fight Arabe.’ I was thinking, what is ‘Fight Arabe? I don’t know that promotion.’ So I asked another coach and he said it was the UFC.”
“F***, that was amazing. A movie of my career and life went over my mind right away, everything I had to go through, injuries, me almost giving up. I’m so glad I didn’t stop fighting. I kept on and was able to fulfill my dream.”
Figueiredo considered retiring from the sport when a shoulder injury kept him sidelined. Convinced to undergo surgery, he was able to resume his career and finally capture the Jungle Fight bantamweight title.
Since returning to action, Figueiredo considers himself undefeated, calling his only defeat, a split decision to Eduardo Souza, a robbery. His most recent appearance was a rematch with Souza, which ended in a draw after Figueiredo was deducted a point due to a fence grab.
Figueiredo’s UFC career starts Wednesday against “The Renegade,” a Contender Series prospect who lost his UFC debut to Tyson Nam. He guarantees Rivera won’t last 15 minutes in Abu Dhabi.
“He’s tall, moves well and has a lot of submissions,” Figueiredo said. “I’m really excited to fight him. I believe it’s going to be a good fight, but I’ll finish him in the first or second round. I believe I’ll knock him out — and if he tries to take me down, I’ll tap him.”