UFC 255 Preview

A title double header tops the bill for the UFC’s latest PPV instalment. In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight title against Jennifer Maia. In the main event, champion Deiveson Figueiredo defends his title for the first time against Alex Perez.

Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) is a bad man. You can tell by his fight style that he enjoys hurting people and that facet mixed with his explosive striking and solid grappling game makes him a very dangerous fighter. The Brazilian also has a killer instinct where by when he hurts his opponents, he smells blood and before you know it, the fight is over. 

Unfortunately, Joseph Benavidez found that out the hard way in his double header with the champion. Figueiredo put a bad beatdown on the UFC veteran, a dominating victory that put the 125-pound division on notice. Alex Perez is donned with the task of dethroning the Flyweight king on Saturday night. 

Perez, a Dana White’s Contender series alumni, will be the first fighter from the series to challenge for a title. The American has only one defeat in his UFC tenure, a fight against Joe Benavidez. Since that loss, the challenger has gone on a three-fight win streak. Perez picked up recent wins over Mark de la Rosa, Jordan Espinosa, and his latest win was against recently cut Jussier Formiga. 

In that fight, Perez showcased a brutal leg kick game, and the champ will have to be very wary of that attack stepping in here. I would expect Figueiredo to pile on the pressure on the front foot, that will make it hard for Perez to get off those kicks. The raw power that Figueiredo possesses will give him huge confidence here. Even if Perez does find success with leg kicks, he will have to deal with the overhand counter punches from his opponent. 

The UFC has received a lot of criticism online about the quality of this card and the main event. I personally do not agree with those sentiments. The flyweight guys deserve this opportunity in the spotlight, and I t’s our responsibility to support them. Anyone crying over the Flyweight division getting binned, now is your chance to support the small guys by purchasing this PPV. This a quality fight and we should be celebrating a new era in the 125-pound division.

The co-main event hosts another flyweight title fight, Valentina Shevchenko (19-3) vs. Jennifer Maia(18-6-1). Shevchenko, one of the best female athletes in the game right now, defends her title for the fourth time as she looks to remain dominant in the division.

Contenders are few and far between right now at 125 pounds. Maia finds herself in a title fight off the back of an impressive armbar victory over Joanne Calderwood. The Brazilian will have it all to do against Shevchenko who has looked untouchable in recent fights.

It’s very hard to see how Maia gets her hands on the belt; Shevchenko is the vastly more experienced striker and her kicks are devastating. Maia has earned most of her finishes by submission, and she showed super slick BJJ in her fight against Calderwood, however, Shevchenko’s seven submission victories is one better than Maia’s six.

Valentina can only beat what is in front of her. If the competition is not there, that’s not her fault. She is a fantastic competitor, and she is very much in her prime right now. I would expect a quick finish in the fight, no disrespect to Maia who deserves to be in this position, I feel Valentina is on a different level right now. It’s hard to see the champ losing at flyweight for a very long time.

A fight with some significance in the 125-pound division takes place on the main card. Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1) could become next in line for a shot at Shevchenko’s belt, she takes on former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian. Chookagian is having a quick turnaround after her loss to Jessica Andrade last month where she was stopped with a vicious body shot.

Mike Perry (14-6) makes the walk in the 170-pound division when he faces off against ” The Dirty Bird”, Tim Means (30-12-1). That fight will be guaranteed fireworks. The opening bout of the main card see’s a rematch go down between MMA legend Shogun Rua (26-11-1) and Paul Craig (13-4-1). Rua and the Scottish man went to battle last year with the bout ending as a draw.

The prelims section is headlined by an absolute banger. Flyweights Brandon Moreno (17-5-1) and Brandon Royval (12-4) will scrap, and the eventual winner will likely be next in line for a shot at Figaredo’s flyweight title. I can’t express enough how good this fight is going to be, these guy’s will set a tremendous pace.

Joaquin Buckley (11-3) returns to middleweight action after his sensational spinning kick knockout, his opponent is the undefeated Jordan Wright (11-0) who looks to move to 2-0 inside the octagon.

Antonina Shevchenko (8-2) will join her sister Valentina on the card, that will mark the first time in the history of the UFC that we’ve seen sisters fight on the same card. She goes to war with “The Queen of Violence” Ariane Lipski, a former KSW world champion. Both of these women are high level strikers, this is sure to be an excellent stand up battle.

Former Cage Warriors champion Nicolas Dalby (18-4-1) takes on Daniel Rodriguez in the welterweight division, Alan Jouban (16-7) fights for the first time this year taking on Jared Gooden (17-4) in the 170-pound division.

Kyle Daukaus (11-1) is searching for his first UFC win, he is matched up against Dustin Stoltzfus (13-1) who makes his debut on the big show, he appeared on the Contender Series in his last outing. Rounding off the card is a fight between undefeated Louis Cosce (7-0) and Sasha Palatnikov (5-2) in the welterweight division.

OFFICIAL FIGHT CARD

Main Card (BT Sports 1, 3am)

Flyweight Title: (C) D. Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez

Flyweight Title:. Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia

Welterweight: Mike Perry vs. Tim Means

Flyweight: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Cynthia Calvillo

Light Heavyweight: Maurício Rua vs. Paul Craig

Flyweight: Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval

Prelims (BT Sports 1, 1am)

Middleweight: Joaquin Buckley vs. Jordan Wright

Flyweight: A. Shevchenko vs. Ariane Lipski

Welterweight: Nicolas Dalby vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Welterweight: Alan Jouban vs. Jared Gooden

Middleweight: Kyle Daukaus vs. Dustin Stoltzfus

Welterweight: Louis Cosce vs. Sasha Palatnikov

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.