Ask — and make history inside the octagon — and you shall receive.
UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo kicked off 2021 with two special requests in mind. First, he wanted to get paid an extra going forward, making dollars based on pay-per-view sales. Second, he called for a catchweight fight with Henry Cejudo for a special “Baddest Motherfucker” belt.
One of the two have already been granted by the promotion, Figueiredo’s longtime manager Wallid Ismail told MMA Fighting.
“I remember as it was today,” Ismail said. “I told [UFC matchmaker] Mick Maynard, ‘This guy will bring back the power to the flyweight division. He fights to kill his opponents, not to score points.’ And he trusted us and kept the division. Deiveson started to put on a show, and this last fight was his coronation.
“The guy was sick and still fought so the pay-per-view wouldn’t lose its main event. It was a draw, but saw it as a win for us, and now they said he deserves the pay-per-view [points]. The UFC really values a complete athlete, one that sells. You can’t be good but not sell. That’s why selling matters so much. That’s what I always tell my athletes.”
Figueiredo went 3-0-1 this past year with a trio of finishes over Joseph Benavidez (twice) and Alex Perez, turning around and re-entering the cage three weeks later to close the year with an epic “Fight of the Year”-candidate clash with Brandon Moreno, ruled a majority draw by cageside judges.
“Deus da Guerra” headlined cards in all four appearances in 2020, the final two being in pay-per-view shows. For Ismail, Figueiredo has everything the UFC was looking for in a 125-pound champion.
“People have to understand that MMA is a business,” Ismail said. “I have a great relationship with the UFC because I understand their side. If an athlete doesn’t sell…They didn’t have lighter fighters headlining pay-per-views before, they would go to Fight Nights because they didn’t sell. But when Deiveson started putting on a show and really showing that flyweights have power, that he has charisma…
“His life story is the best. His life story shows that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, from Africa or in the middle of the Amazon rainforest — which is his case — or Western Europe, you can become UFC champion if you train hard and is focused. Deiveson proved it. The way he acts, his charisma, his authenticity — and knocking people out, which is the most important of all. He goes there and puts on a show.”
Figueiredo wants to get in the octagon with Moreno again next and leave “no doubt,” but first both fighters still need to recover from the injuries sustained in the 25-minute war. According to Ismail, Figueiredo is currently targeting May for his third title defense.
The UFC flyweight king will fly to Abu Dhabi to accompany his brother Francisco Figueiredo, who makes his UFC debut on Jan. 20 against Jerome Rivera, and plans on traveling to Thailand to work on his striking skills.