Figueiredo defends title, submits Perez in Round 1

Saturday night’s UFC 255 was a flyweight division showcase, as both the men’s and women’s 125-pound champions defended their titles at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

In the evening’s main event, Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1) lent credence to the growing notion that he’s on his way to becoming one of the sport’s next great champions. The Brazilian standout needed just 1:57 to submit upstart challenger Alex Perez (24-6) of Hanford, Calif.

The bout looked like a mismatch from the start, as Figueiredo cracked Perez with sharp right hands and wicked body kicks.

Perez, who comes from a wrestling base, went for a takedown, but Figueiredo easily reversed position and effortlessly transitioned into the winning guillotine choke. Perez, a short-notice substitute for former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, tried to get back to his feet, but tapped out when he couldn’t.

It was the first successful title defense and fifth straight win for Figueiredo, four of which have been finishes.

“That was what I told my coach I would do, I trained for the early finish,” Figueiredo said through an interpreter. “I’m pleased I went out and did it.”

The evening’s co-feature bout was noteworthy simply because the champion looked mortal for awhile. Dominant women’s flyweight titleholder Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) of Las Vegas by way of Kyrgyzstan was a nearly 16-to-1 favorite on most major sports books in her defense against Brazil’s Jennifer Maia (18-7-1).

Shevchenko, though, got off to a slow start, winning a closer-than-expected opening round and then dropping the second round when Maia, an accomplished grappler, got the best of things on the mat.

Shevchenko found her bearings from there, though, and took over both in the standup and on the mat and cruised the rest of the way. She pieced up Maia in the fifth round to put the exclamation point on a 49-46, across-the-board win. It was her fourth successful title defense.

“After a long layoff I needed to feel the spirit of the fight to know I was 100 percent,” Shevchenko said. “I was glad it was back and forth at first, because it made me knew I was very healthy.”

–Field Level Media

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