Brandon Moreno left one of the greatest rivalries in UFC history in the rearview when he dominated Deiveson Figueiredo for the better part of three full rounds and stopped him when the ringside doctor ruled that Figueiredo couldn’t see with his right eye.
Moreno regained the undisputed flyweight title and won a four-fight personal streak with Figueiredo 2-1-1. Moreno stopped Figueiredo in both won fights.
What Moreno also did on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 283 at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was to establish himself as the greatest flyweight in MMA history.
This should still belong to Demetrius Johnson, who now fights for the ONE Championship but has held the UFC belt for over five full years, including 11 defenses, 12 championship wins and wins over luminaries like Henry Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez, among others.
For some reason, Johnson never caught on with the public, and at the end of that reign, the UFC began producing 125-pound fighters as President Dana White openly discussed leaving the division.
Fortunately, this did not happen, because we may never have realized the greatness of Moreno, whose backstory is extraordinary. He was fired from the UFC, returned and became one of the best fighters of any weight class in the world and, by all accounts, the greatest flyweight of all time.
He attacked Figueiredo from the start, mixing wrestling and punching, keeping up the fast-paced pace that Figueiredo struggled to maintain and finished him off with a perfect punch that closed Figueiredo’s right eye. Figueiredo, who fought in front of his home country, said he thought it might have been a poke and the guerrilla crown clearly believed it, but replays showed that it was clearly a poke that hit the eyes.
“I tried to put pressure on him, move forward and let him get tired,” Moreno said.
He did these things masterfully. He also kicked his greatest rival out of the division as Figueiredo said he was moving up to bantamweight.
“It was Brandon’s night,” Figueiredo said. “I thought it was a poke in the eye, but there is not much to say. I hope I don’t get seriously injured.”
Moreno said a lot with his style. He didn’t flinch when Figueiredo tried to piss him off at Friday’s weigh-ins, and he didn’t mind the noisy crowd of Figueiredo supporters at Jeunesse.
Johnson deserves to continue to be regarded as the best flyweight division given his long reign, his victory over Cejudo and the various ways in which he achieved it.
While Moreno doesn’t have that win over Cejudo, the flyweight competition is better now than it was when Johnson was in the UFC.
He’s not yet in the GOAT division, but on Saturday he took a big step along the way.