Norfolk — Just as things started to look up for the UFC’s flyweight division, Deiveson Figueiredo missed weight by 2.5 pounds ahead of his fight against Joseph Benavidez for the vacant flyweight championship.
The first time the flyweight division was saved
After Henry Cejudo won the flyweight title back in August of 2018, against Demetrious Johnson, the UFC was ready to shut down the division for good.
Due to the division not being marketable enough in the past, the promotion was ready to call it quits on promoting it any further, despite there being a new champion in Henry Cejudo.
Part of the problem for a long time had been the fact that prior to Cejudo winning the title in August of 2018, the divisions only champion, Demetrious Johnson, had not been able to sell PPV’s or put fans in the seats during his long title reign of over five years.
The division was saved in January of 2019 when Cejudo fought current bantamweight champion at the time, TJ Dillashaw.
The fight resurrected the fans and the promotions excitment when it was promoted in a way that Cejudo was attempting to save the flyweight division. If he lost that fight, there was a very high chance that the division would have gone away for good.
Despite the huge amount of pressure on his shoulders, Cejudo pulled off a first round knockout over Dillashaw in just over 30 seconds to retain his title and officially save the flyweight division.
After his victory, Cejudo wanted a chance at double champ status as well, and went up a weight class to challenge Marlon Moraes for the bantamweight world title.
Five months after saving the flyweight division, Cejudo TKO’d Moraes in the third round via ground and pound to become the UFC bantamweight champion. Securing his status as double champ.
After winning the bantamweight title, it was expected that Cejudo would attempt to defend both belts, but due to his size and age, he just couldn’t make the weight anymore. In late December of 2019, Cejudo relinquished the UFC flyweight title to focus on defending the bantamweight strap.
Despite Cejudo releasing the title, he had officially saved the division from being dropped by the UFC and it was made clear when they scheduled a fight between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant flyweight title.
Fast-forward to this week, fight week for Benavidez vs. Figueiredo, Figueiredo missed weight, resulting in him now being ineligable to win the title if he wins on Saturday.
How this spells disaster for the flyweights
Despite the UFC’s reluctance to keep the division around, they chose to roll the dice and keep their word. Since making that decision, it’s been nothing but difficult for them to once again promote the division over the last year, ever since Cejudo defended against Dillashaw.
The flyweights now find themselves in a position of uncertainty, once again.
The feel going into tonights title fight is that Benavidez is now fighting to keep the flyweight division alive, on top of attempting to become champion. Although the promo has not been cut this way and there has been no official statement by the UFC or it’s president, Dana White, we can’t help but speculate what would happen if Figueiredo wins against Benavidez and the title remains vacant.
The UFC was ready to dissolve the division when it finally got a new face. If the title remains vacant after Saturday, it would give the UFC the perfect reason to carry on with what they were planning on doing if Cejudo lost to Dillashaw back in January of 2019.
This title fight just got a lot more interesting and there is now even more on the line which was hard to imagine going into fight week.
Tune in tonight to UFC on ESPN+ 27, Benavidez vs. Figueiredo to see what the future holds for the flyweights. The card will be streamed exclusively on the ESPN+ app.
Figueiredo won by TKO in the second round via ground and pound strikes. The flyweight title remains vacant. More news to come.