Deiveson Figueiredo celebrates his UFC flyweight championship in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Gulf Today, Sport Reporter
Deiveson Figueiredo won the vacant UFC flyweight championship on Sunday, finishing a dominant performance against Joseph Benavidez with a rear naked choke with 12 seconds left in the first round.
Jack Hermansson also stunned Kelvin Gastelum with a first-round submission by heel hook in the penultimate bout of the third UFC show in eight days from Fight Island, the UFC's base of operations on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Figueiredo (19-1) became just the third 125-pound champion in UFC history by thoroughly dominating his second victory in five months over Benavidez. The Brazilian veteran knocked down Benavidez three times with punches and barely missed on several choke attempts before finally landing a choke that appeared to render Benavidez unconscious.
"I knew that my time was going to come, and this is my time,” Figueiredo said through a translator. "I'm going to continue to defend this belt, and I’m going to be an active champion.”
Benavidez (28-7) dropped to a heartbreaking 0-4 in UFC title fights with the first submission defeat of his 14-year pro career.
The main event was a rematch of the flyweights' meeting on Feb. 29 for the same belt vacated by Henry Cejudo's retirement. Figueiredo missed weight for that fight in Norfolk, Virginia, making him ineligible to claim the title when he stopped Benavidez in the second round with a spectacular one-punch knockdown.
Figueiredo, the first non-American UFC flyweight champ, joins Demetrious Johnson and Cejudo as the only UFC fighters ever to hold the 125-pound title. Johnson beat Benavidez in that inaugural title bout in 2012, and Mighty Mouse reigned for nearly six years before Cejudo dethroned him in 2018.
The 32-year-old Figueiredo is 8-1 since joining the UFC in 2017. He had previous fought only in Brazil.
"I wanted to come here and take this belt home to my city, my state,” said Figueiredo, who grew up near the mouth of the Amazon River. "I'm so proud to get this belt. I said I was going to take it, and here I am.”
Benavidez is one of the top lighter-weight fighters of his generation - but just like longtime friend Urijah Faber, he has repeatedly fallen just short of a UFC title. Benavidez has lost twice to Johnson and twice to Figueiredo, but has lost only one other fight in the past decade.
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