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Deiveson Figueiredo eyes ‘legend’ Dominick Cruz for bantamweight debut: ‘I’ll fight the best’

UFC 283: Teixeira v Hill Ceremonial Weigh-in
Deiveson Figueiredo
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Deiveson Figueiredo wants a popular opponent for his first UFC fight at bantamweight, and that name is Dominick Cruz.

The former UFC flyweight kingpin said on a recent episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca he hasn’t fully made his mind that 135 pounds is the future after announcing his departure “in the heat of the moment” in his post-fight interview at UFC 283, moments after losing to Brandon Moreno, but is “80 percent” sure that’s the right move.

“I’ll go up and represent, I won’t be just another one in the division,” Figueiredo said. “I’ll fight the best, no doubt about it. I respect everybody there, they are all excellent fighters, but I’m going there to do my 100 percent.”

Figueiredo started his most recent camp at 167 pounds but said his weight cut wasn’t an issue for his fourth clash with Moreno in Rio de Janeiro, hitting 125 pounds on Jan. 20 and going all the way up to 141 on fight now. Yet, Figueiredo said post-weigh-ins recovery wasn’t ideal.

The 35-year-old talent, who now holds a record of 21-3-1 in the sport with wins over the likes of Moreno, Joseph Benavidez (twice), Alexandre Pantoja, Tim Elliott, John Moraga and Alex Perez, is aiming at former UFC and WEC titleholder Cruz.

“I’ve talked to my manager after the fight and we came to the conclusion that Dominick Cruz would be a great fight,” Figueiredo said. “It would be a great first fight at 135. He’s a former champion, I’m a former champion, so it would be a guy with a name and high level to welcome me at 135. That would be great.”

Cruz is coming off back-to-back decision wins over Pedro Munhoz and Casey Kenney before losing by knockout to Marlon Vera, and hasn’t had a fight booked just yet.

Figueiredo is now co-managed by former WEC champion Urijah Faber, who has handled Cruz his first loss in the sport back in 2007 and shared the UFC octagon with him twice more over the next decade. With that history in mind, “Deus da Guerra” said “it would be a pleasure to have Urijah Faber in my corner fighting Dominick.”

“Dominick moves a lot and we know we would have to cut his movement,” Figueiredo said of a potential bout between the two. “I would 100 percent explore that and train a lot of wrestling. I’ve been training jiu-jitsu a lot, and would train a lot of wrestling too, especially defensive wrestling. Dude is a legend and I know he’s an excellent fighter, he can take people down. I’d block his takedowns and box him hard.”

“There are great guys in this division,” he continued. “To come here and say I will [win and] then fight for the belt, that’s kind of hard. I think I have to come slowly, showing I have what it takes to fight for the belt.”

That said, even though Figueiredo sounds all-in in his move to bantamweight, the “80 percent” number mentioned previously still leaves the door open for his next fight to be at flyweight.

“There’s a chance [my next fight is] at 125,” he said. “I still have to fight Kai-Kara France, I still have to fight [Alexandre] Pantoja. There are new kids coming up with potential to fight for the belt or to be at the top. The division tends to get better. Or maybe I might move up to 135. That’s why I’m undecided. I’m getting undecided now. I wanna go to 135, but I’m undecided now.

“I have a long rivalry with Moreno, who I hope to fight a fifth time at 135. I’m sure he’ll move up one day and we’ll fight, or I”ll decide to stay at 125 and fight a few more fights. I haven’t ruled that out yet, but I’m focused on debuting at 135 now. I’m talking to my coaches, asking for their opinions, and they think it’s good, it’s less suffering. We’ll train and stay stronger.

“I’ve already shown what I had to show [at flyweight]. Now, it’s time to turn the page and go to 135. I have that in my mind now, that’s the plan, but I have to listen to my coaches as well. My manager and jiu-jitsu coach Fabio Prado agree it’s an excellent idea to be welcomed by Dominick Cruz [at bantamweight]. It’s time to move on and fight to 135 and forget about [the flyweights]. Let them fight each other down there. I did what I had to do.”

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