UFC 256 Preview

Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1) returns just three weeks out from his last title defence, the champ is set to put his belt on the line against Brandon Moreno (18-5-1) in the flyweight division. The co-main event is a showdown between Tony Ferguson (25-4) and Charles Oliveira (29-8) in the lightweight division. 

The dust has barely settled from Deiveson Figueiredo’s recent impressive victory over Alex Perez at UFC 255. The Brazilian will have the quickest turnaround that a champion has had in UFC history with just 21 days in between title defences. Standing across the cage will be Brandon Moreno who finds himself challenging for the 125-pound strap for the first time.

Moreno is enjoying his second stint in the UFC, his first stint did not quite go to plan for the Mexican fighter who went 3-2, the UFC somewhat surprisingly cut Moerno after his loss to Alexandre Pantoja. A brief stint in LFA saw him pick up the strawweight title before making a return to the big show.

“The Assassin Baby” has had a very successful run on fights since his return to the UFC. Moreno went undefeated in four fights enroute to his title shot, picking up wins over Kai Kara-France, Jussier Formiga and Brandon Royval in his last fight that also happened just 21 days ago.

Fighting Figueiredo will be a huge test for the challenger this coming Saturday, Moreno will find confidence that he is ever improving each fight, that being said he will need to pull off the performance of his career in order to get his hands raised. 

Figueiredo is a bad man, the Brazilian has big fight ending power in his striking but what really stands out is the champions killer instinct and how quickly he can go from hurting his opponent, to finishing his opponent. What we saw in Figueiredo’s last title defence over Perez was a slick grappling game, even from a supposedly compromised position Figueiredo had the grappling expertise to adjust and pull off the guillotine finish in that fight. The champion looks like the full package and I am excited to see him perform again in such a short period of time. 

Former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson (25-4)  steps back into the octagon for the first time since his loss to Justin Gaethje. “El Cucuy” will go up against Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira in a mouthwatering clash at 155 pounds. Ferguson didn’t look himself last time out, he did cut weight twice in a short period of time for the Gaethje fight which may have hindered his performance. 

Oliveira has been on an absolute tear in the lightweight division, he has won each of his last seven fights, and all but one of those fights from Oliveira have been finishes. Ferguson will provide a unique test for the Brazilian, who has had difficulties in the past when matched up against upper echelon competitors, it will be interesting to see if he can progress past Ferguson here and move into title contention. With all of these factors and the bookies having the betting line so close with Charles at 2.45 and Tony at 1.61 at the time of writing, studying the ins and outs of MMA betting is recommended for this one.

Renato Moicano (14-3-1) continues his tenure at 155 pounds, the former featherweight contender is set to go up against Kyrgyzstan born Rafael Fiziev, who trains out of Tiger Muay Thai, in Phuket. Fiziev looked massively impressive in his last bout against Marc Diakiese and I’m excited to see him in action again. 

Kevin Holland (20-5) returns from his Covid scare to take on UFC and MMA veteran Jacare Souza (26-8). We have not seen all that much of Holland’s grappling game so far in the UFC,he managed a RNC victory over John Phillips. We have seen Holland’s slick striking skills in recent fights with knockouts of Joaquin Buckley and a slam KO over Charlie Ontiveros in his previous fight. 

It will be Jacare’s job to try and take the middleweight up and comer into uncharted territory. For Kevin Holland, this is the perfect style match-up for him at this stage of his career, and Jacare is certainly a worthy adversary for the Travis Lutter trained Holland. 

It’s a case of old school vs. new school in the main card opener when former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos (21-8) steps in to face off against Frenchman Ciryl Gane. Finding himself on a three fight skid this is truly a make or break fight for dos Santos, another loss could see the Brazilian get his marching orders from the UFC.

Ciryl Gane doesn’t care about that though, he has eyes firmly set on keeping his undefeated record and moving on up into the top ten in ranking of the 265-pound division. It’s always fun to watch the big guys throw down and a couple of heavy-hitters opening up the PPV is always good in my book. 

The prelims section of the card is headlined by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Mackenzie Dern (9-1), she squares up against Virna Jandiroba (16-1), who has 13 submission wins on her resume. That fight takes place in the strawweight division. Dwight Grant (10-3) is looking to get back into the win column, the American will take on heavy hitter Jingilang Li (17-6) at 170 pounds. 

Chase Hooper (9-1-1) returns to action in the featherweight division, the 21-year old looks to return to his winning ways when he steps in to take on Peter Barrett, Barrett is looking for his first win inside the octagon. Billy Quarantillo (15-2), who is on an 8 fight win streak, is set to take on Gavin Tucker (12-1) in the 145-pound division. Both fighters have 23 finishes between them so I would expect this bout to be a real firefight. 

Karl Roberson (9-3) will make the walk to go up against D. Lungiambula (10-2) in the middleweight division. A heavyweight showdown between Sergey Spivak (11-2) who is set to welcome Jared Vanderaa (11-4) into the UFC, Vanderaa earned his way into the UFC through with a knockout win in the Contenders Series in November.

Cub Swanson (26-11) will make a comeback after a nasty knee injury, Swanson will take on Daniel Pineda (27-13). That will be a battle between two veterans of the sport in the featherweight division. A 115-pound fight between Angela Lee (11-5) and Gillian Robertson (9-4) will open up proceedings on a fantastic night of fights overall.

Main Card (BT Sports 1, 3am)

Flyweight Title: D. Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno

Lightweight: Tony Ferguson vs. Charles Oliveira

Heavyweight: Junior dos Santos vs. Ciryl Gane

Lightweight: Renato Moicano vs. Rafael Fiziev

Middleweight: Kevin Holland vs. Ronaldo Souza

Preliminary Card (Fight Pass, 11pm; BT Sports 1, 1am)

Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern vs. Virna Jandiroba

Welterweight: Dwight Grant vs. Jingliang Li

Strawweight: Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill

Featherweight: Chase Hooper vs. Peter Barrett

Featherweight: Billy Quarantillo vs. Gavin Tucker

Middleweight: Karl Roberson vs. D. Lungiambula

Heavyweight: Sergey Spivak vs. Jared Vanderaa

Featherweight: Cub Swanson vs. Daniel Pineda

Strawweight: Andrea Lee vs. Gillian Robertson

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.