By: Eric Marcotte
UFC 256 took place on Saturday night, from the UFC Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was yet another card that was hit hard by COVID and injuries, with over ten fights being cancelled or rescheduled, including three title fights that were slated to headline this card over the past few months. Ultimately, it was the UFC’s Flyweight Champion, Deiveson Figueiredo, as well as the divisions top contender, Brandon Moreno, who answered the call to headline the card, despite both fighters competing just three weeks ago at UFC 255. At UFC 255, Figueiredo defended his title in the main event of the card, defeating Alex Perez by submission in the first round, and Moreno solidified his position as the next fighter in line for a title shot by picking up a first-round stoppage of his own, defeating Brandon Royval. In the co-main event, Tony Ferguson met Charles Oliveira, in an important matchup in the talent stacked lightweight division. The commentary team for this event consisted of Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier.
- Chase Hooper def. Peter Barrett by heel hook at 3:02 of Round 3
- Tecia Torres def. Sam Hughes by TKO at 5:00 of Round 1
- Gavin Tucker def. Billy Quarantillo by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Rafael Fiziev def. Renato Moicano by KO at 4:05 of Round 1
- Cub Swanson def. Daniel Pineda by KO at 1:52 of Round 2
- Ciryl Gane def Junior dos Santos by TKO at 2:34 of Round 2
- Kevin Holland def. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza by KO at 1:45 of Round 1
- Mackenzie Dern def. Virna Jandiroba by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Charles Oliveira def. Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision (30-26 all)
- Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno ends in a Majority Draw (47-46, 47-47, 47-47). Deiveson Figueiredo retains the UFC Flyweight Championship
CHASE HOOPER (9-1-1, 145.5) VS PETER BARRETT (11-4, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Barrett defended an early takedown attempt from Hooper, and hit him with a pair of leg kicks. They threw kicks at the same time, and Barrett’s caught Hooper low. Barrett was walking Hooper down, and was overwhelming him on the feet. Hooper backed him off with a low blow of his own that brought pause to the action yet again. Hooper was missing on some big looping strikes, and Barrett defended another takedown attempt. Hooper rolled for a leg with seconds left in the round, but he didn’t really have the time to capitalize on it. 10-9 Barrett.
Hooper landed a strong straight left hand to begin the second round. Barrett began to really attack Hoopers leg, and it quickly became clear that Hoopers leg couldn’t withstand much more damage. Things weren’t looking good for Hooper, but he actually managed to bring the fight to the ground with an Imanari roll. Barrett got back to his feet, but the grappling exchange gave him some time to recover. This was another clear round for Barrett, who ended the round with a right hook.
Barrett backed up an off-balance Chase Hooper with a straight left early in the third, and in response, Hooper brought Barrett back to the ground by diving on a leg. Hooper connected with some hammerfists, and he was able to extent Barrett’s leg and lock in a heel hook for the win.
WINNER: Chase Hooper by heel hook at 3:02 of Round 3
Barrett was likely up on the scorecards, and Hooper did exactly what he needed to in order to secure the finish. He still has some obvious holes on the feet, but he’s young enough that there is plenty of time ahead of him to improve that aspect of his game. Hooper is now 2-1 in the UFC.
TECIA TORRES (11-5, 115.5) VS SAM HUGHES (5-1, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Torres quickly overwhelmed Hughes with a flurry of strikes, and Hughes clinched her up against the cage to recover. Torres connected with a superman punch, and she continued to piece her up on the feet. This was a fantastic start to the fight for Torres, who quadrupled up Hughes’s total strike count, and she ended the round with a huge slam.
In-between rounds, Hughes apparently told her corner that she couldn’t see from an eye poke, and the doctor came in to check on her. The fight was stopped, and Torres was declared the winner.
WINNER: Tecia Torres by TKO at 5:00 of Round 1
Tecia Torres dominated the fight, and it was clear that this was a mis-match. Torres was initially scheduled to fight Angela Hill, but Hill withdrew from the fight earlier in the week after testing positive for COVID-19. I imagine they’ll reschedule that fight, and this was a great performance by Torres to build that one up. Torres is now 8-5 in the UFC.
GAVIN TUCKER (12-1, 146) VS BILLY QUARANTILLO (15-2, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Tucker began the fight aggressively, but he got backed up by a right hand from Quarantillo. Both men were landing on the feet, and I thought Tucker was doing a great job of mixing up his attack to the head, legs and body. Tucker connected with some short elbows when exiting the clinch, but they didn’t deter Quarantillo from moving forward. They exchanged straight right hands, as well as some knees to the body in the clinch. Tucker connected with a head kick at the end of the round, and took Quarantillo down to seal the first in his favour.
Tucker was really tagging Quarantillo at the beginning of the second, and the commentary team were discussing the toll of the body shots on Quarantillo’s cardio. Tucker brought Quarantillo down to the ground with about a minute and a half remaining in the round, and he was able to take his back. Quarantillo escaped to his feet but he was looking tired. I had the fight scored 20-18 for Gavin Tucker going into the third round.
Tucker got right back to work in the third round, catching Quarantillo with some beautiful overhands. After a few failed attempts, Tucker got Quarantillo back to the ground, and began to work from half guard. He took the back once again, but Quarantillo was able to stand up. A headbutt separated them, and Quarantillo was talking some trash to Tucker when the fight resumed. Tucker racked up another three takedowns in the last couple minutes of the round, and I ultimately scored the fight 30-27 for him.
WINNER: Gavin Tucker by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Tucker looked fantastic in this fight, and with this win, he ended an eight-fight win streak for Billy Quarantillo. I thought every aspect of his game looked good here, and this was an entertaining fight. With this win, Tucker is now 4-1 in the UFC.
RENATO MOICANO (14-3-1, 155) VS RAFAEL FIZIEV (8-1, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Fiziev landed kick after kick to begin this fight. His kicks were so quick that Moicano had almost no time to react to them. That being said, Moicano’s right hand was finding its home as well, and as the round wore on, his hands were beginning to land more and more. Fiziev defended a takedown attempt from Moicano, and he landed this three-piece combination that ended with a left hook that dropped Moicano, and the fight was stopped as soon as he hit the ground.
WINNER: Rafael Fiziev by KO at 4:05 of Round 1
This was a fun fight while it lasted, but Fiziev’s combinations were so quick, and they were ultimately the difference maker in this one. Moicano protested the stoppage, but he went down hard, so I understand why the referee was so quick to jump in. In his post-fight interview, he warned his opponents to train hard, because he’s coming. Fiziev is now 3-1 in the UFC, and after beating someone like Renato Moicano, he very well may have lined himself up for ranked opponent.
CUB SWANSON (26-11, 145) VS DANIEL PINEDA (27-13, 2 NC, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Swanson defended an early takedown attempted from Pineda, but he was eating a lot of strikes, including a great deal of leg kicks that were clearly having an effect. Cub fired back with some combinations of his own, and after a slip from Pineda, Swanson jumped on him and began to work from his guard. Pineda almost caught Swanson in an armbar, but Cub used the opportunity to get back to his feet. He ate another brutal leg kick and a spinning back kick to the body, but then Cub dropped Pineda with a right hand. Swanson didn’t really go for the kill after dropping him, and Pineda was able to make it out of the round. 10-9 Swanson.
Cub began the second round with a body shot, and a hard right hand. Swanson defended a single leg attempt, and he floored Pineda with a right hand on the break. One follow up shot was all it took to seal the deal.
WINNER: Cub Swanson by KO at 1:52 of Round 2
It took Swanson a few minutes to get going, but once he did, Pineda was in trouble. It felt like everything Cub landed was hurting him, and Swanson finished things off with one more highlight knockout. One year ago, Swanson tore his ACL competing at QUINTET, and this was his first fight since the injury. He was emotional in his post fight interview, and it was great to see him get back on track.
JUNIOR DOS SANTOS (21-8, 246.5) VS CIRYL GANE (6-0, 247) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Gane looked very comfortable early, attacking the lead leg of dos Santos, and slipping away from his counter shots. They exchanged jabs to the body as well as leg kicks, and the action was paused after a low blow from Gane. The fight quickly resumed and Gane continued to kick Cigano’s lead leg. JDS caught him with some strong hooks near the end of the round, but I thought Gane’s output was enough to win him the round.
There was no change of strategy between rounds for Ciryl Gane, as his leg kicks continued to add up. A jab from Gane rocked dos Santos, and a pair of short elbows made JDS turtle up, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Ciryl Gane by TKO at 2:34 of Round 2
JDS was livid after the finish, claiming the elbow that finished the fight was illegal. It appeared to be a legal shot, and Gane was all class in his post-fight interview. The man is now 7-0 in the UFC, and has moved from the status of a hot prospect, to a legitimate contender. I’d like to see him face Jairzinho Rozenstruik or Alexander Volkov next. For JDS, this was his fourth straight knockout loss, and with the UFC going through roster cuts at the moment, it wouldn’t shock me if he was one of them. He’s still skilled, and would run through any of the unranked heavyweights, but if you watch a Junior dos Santos fight from his prime, he barely resembles the fighter who was once the scariest man in the division. If he remains in the UFC, it’s time for a step down in competition.
KEVIN HOLLAND (20-5, 185) VS RONALDO “JACARE” SOUZA (26-8, 1 NC, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Jacare took Holland down seconds into the fight, but he ate a ton of elbows in the process, and Holland got back to his feet. Holland went for a standing guillotine, and Jacare brought him back to the ground. Now this was crazy, Holland created a bit of distance on the ground, he whipped his leg to create momentum, and he started swinging right hands as he was getting up, and he knocked Jacare out cold.
WINNER: Kevin Holland by KO at 1:45 of Round 1
This was an incredible finish for Kevin Holland, who went 5-0 in 2020 with this win. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a finish quite like this one, and Holland did it in the biggest fight of his career thus far. Holland is extremely entertaining, and after finishing a guy like Jacare Souza in the first round, Holland has set himself up for a big fight in his next outing. Holland called out Khamzat Chimaev in his post-fight interview.
MACKENZIE DERN (9-1, 115) VS VIRNA JANDIROBA (16-1, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT
Dern swarmed Jandiroba with strikes early, with no fear of Jandiroba countering. Dern’s right hand found its home repeatedly, and Jandiroba just didn’t have much to offer her in return. Dern shot for a single leg, and Jandiroba defended the attempt. Jandiroba landed a kick to the body and followed it up with a 1-2. She landed another one near the end of the round, but I still gave the edge to Dern.
Jandiroba decided not to take Dern up on her invitation to jump into her guard. Jandiroba was doing much better work on the feet then she did in the first, and Derns output was beginning to wane slightly. A nasty eye poke from Dern brought a pause to the action. If Dern was tiring at all, the break brought back some energy, and she shot for a takedown. Jandiroba defended it, kneed her in the face, and got a takedown of her own. Dern was bleeding heavily from her nose, and it was pouring into her eyes from her back. I scored this round for Jandiroba.
Jandiroba defended an early single leg from Dern, and landed a leg kick after they broke apart. Dern connected with a heavy body kick, and she caught Jandiroba with a right hand that sent her stumbling backwards. Still, Jandiroba defended Derns takedown attempt, and chose not to engage Dern in her guard. Jandiroba connected with a lead elbow, but ate a couple more kicks to the body in response. With thirty seconds left in the round, Jandiroba pulled guard on Dern, looking for an armbar, but Dern was wise to it, and ended the round on top. Very close round, but I ultimately scored the round, and the fight, for Mackenzie Dern.
WINNER: Mackenzie Dern by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Often when two high level grapplers meet in MMA, it turns into a kickboxing match, and this was one of those fights. It was very close, and both fighters had their opponent hurt at one point or another, but I agreed with the judge’s decision. Dern was very aggressive, and she seemed to have a bit more behind her punches throughout the fight. Dern is now 5-1 in the UFC, and is quickly becoming a player at strawweight.
TONY FERGUSON (26-4, 155) VS CHARLES OLIVEIRA (29-8, 1 NC, 154.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Oliveira began the fight with a strong leg kick, and they proceeded to exchange jabs. Oliveira was fighting aggressively, and Ferguson landed some solid counter shots in response. Oliveira proceeded to pick Tony up and slam him down to the ground. He landed a strong elbow from on top, and he moved into full mount. Oliveira just smothered Ferguson for the majority of the round, and Ferguson was unable to mount any offence from his back or improve his position. With seconds left in the round, Charles Oliveira transitioned to an armbar, and Ferguson somehow held on to make it to the second round.
Ferguson wasn’t throwing his left arm at all, and Oliveira easily took Tony back down near the cage. An elbow from Ferguson cut Oliveira up, but an illegal up kick from Ferguson landed, and the referee briefly paused the action. When the fight resumed, Oliveira went back to work, eventually moving into a bit of an inverted north south position. Time expired, and this was another clear round for Oliveira.
Oliveira slammed Ferguson to the ground once again in the third round. He quickly moved into full mount, and when Tony tried to scramble out, Oliveira put him in a triangle choke, before moving back into side control. Ferguson tried to make something happen from his back, but Oliveira wasn’t making any mistakes. At one point Ferguson managed to escape, but Oliveira slammed him right back down, and ended the fight on top. 30-26 Oliveira.
WINNER: Charles Oliveira by unanimous decision (30-26 all)
This was a masterful performance from Charles Oliveira, who dominated one of the best lightweights of all time for every minute of this fight. With this win, Oliveira is on an eight-fight win streak, and he has inserted himself into the lightweight title picture. Logically, he should be next in line for a title fight regardless of the title’s status (whether it’s vacated or defended by Khabib Nurmagomedov). To Ferguson’s credit, most fighters would have tapped out from that first round armbar, but he went the distance, and was still trying to find a finish in the third round.
DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO (20-1, 124.5) VS BRANDON MORENO (18-5-1, 124.5) – UFC FLYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Figueiredo opened up with a hard spinning back kick to the body. Moreno defended a takedown attempt from Figueiredo, and then Figueiredo defended one in return. Moreno was throwing out his jab, and they exchanged hard body shots. Both fighters were landing strong shots, and this was an intense first round. Moreno threw a bunch of head kicks that were just missing, and Figueiredo was really attacking the body. Great opening round. 10-9 Figueiredo.
Figueiredo went back to the spinning back kick to the body to begin the second. At one-point Figueiredo was just teeing off on Moreno with a combination, and Moreno just ate it and returned fire. Moreno was successful with his next takedown attempt, but Figueiredo scrambled right up and they began swinging wildly in the pocket. Figueiredo landed a looping left hand, and another hard body kick. Moreno responded with a right hand, and a takedown after Figueiredo had him hurt with a big right hand. Another incredible round. Once again, I gave the edge to Figueiredo, but it could have gone either way.
Moreno’s right eye had begun to swell badly between rounds. Moreno was wild in the opening minute of the third round, but Figueiredo kept beating up the body, and the shots that Moreno was taking, were unbelievable. Figueiredo defended a takedown attempt, and he continued to throw powerful hooks to the body. Moreno had not quit in him though, and he was very much still in the fight. Unfortuantly, Figueiredo connected with one of the most brutal looking low blows I have ever seen, and Moreno collapsed hard. I genuinely thought this was going to be the end of the fight, but a point was taken from Figueiredo, and the fight continued. Figueiredo took Moreno down shortly after the action resumed, but Moreno was quick to his feet, and he landed another strong right hand. I sound like a broken record, but this was another close round. I gave the edge to Moreno, so with the point deduction taken into account, it would be 28-28.
Figueiredo caught Moreno with a left hand in the opening minute, and Moreno responded with a strong combination. A head kick partially landed for Moreno, and it looked like it effected Figueiredo. He shot for a takedown, but Moreno reversed the momentum to get a takedown of his own. Figueiredo got back to his feet and landed a huge uppercut. Moreno proceeded to rock Figueiredo with a flurry of strikes, but he somehow survived and they went right back to their brawl. When momentum was beginning to go Figueiredo’s way, Moreno scored a huge takedown, and caught him with a heavy left hand back on the feet to end the round. I had Moreno up 38-37 going into the final round. This was another amazing round.
Figueiredo landed a trio of body kicks to begin the fifth. Moreno’s output had dissolved by this round, and there appeared to be something seriously wrong with his left forearm. Figueiredo was cautious himself this round, but landed the bigger strikes, and I thought he took the final round. With the point deduction, I scored this fight as a draw, at 48-48.
Result: Majority Draw (47-46, 47-47, 47-47) Deiveson Figueiredo retains the UFC Flyweight Championship
This was one of the greatest fights of all time. I thought Joanna Jędrzejczyk versus Zhang Weili was a lock for fight of the year, but these two men gave them a run for there money and then some. I can’t complain about the judges scoring, because every round was razor close. I think these fighters will definitely be running this fight back at some point. Figueiredo will be a frontrunner on most people’s fighter of the year list, and this was an amazing way to end the year.