The UFC continued to add to one of its big upcoming cards this January with the addition of another high-profile bout, and I’ll give my thoughts on it in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo, UFC 233
An important flyweight fight between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo has been added to UFC 233, which is set for January 26 at Honda Centre in Anaheim, California. Lance Pugmire of the LA Times broke the news of this bout. With the main event of UFC 233 being the flyweight title superfight between UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo and UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw (who is moving down in weight), it’s possible the UFC booked this bout between Benavidez and Figueiredo in order to have a backup fighter in place just in case one of the headliners fall off. Otherwise, it’s kind of strange the UFC would book another flyweight fight considering the division is likely to be shut down. Perhaps reports of the division’s immediate demise were overblown, but that remains to be seen.
Benavidez (26-5) is 13-3 overall in the UFC and is coming off of a quick first-round TKO over Alex Perez at the TUF 28 Finale. Aside from a split decision loss to Sergio Pettis, Benavidez has been able to beat pretty much everyone he’s fought in the flyweight division, save former champion Demetrious Johnson. He was expected to falter against the youngster Perez but instead showed there are levels to this game with a “Performance of the Night” worthy knockout as the underdog. Figueiredo (15-0) is 4-0 so far in the UFC with three finishes and is coming off of a TKO win over John Moraga that pushed him into the flyweight division’s top five. 13 of his 15 career wins have come by stoppage, giving him one of the highest finishing rates in the flyweight division. As far as the odds go, it’s hard not to give a slight lean here towards Benavidez considering his pedigree and his knockout over Perez. But there’s no doubting Figueiredo has looked amazing in the UFC as well, and he’ll be given plenty of respect by the sportsbooks.
Ariane Lipski vs. Joanne Calderwood Moved From UFC 233 to UFC on ESPN+ 1
Also worth noting is that the UFC has shifted events for the upcming women’s fyweight bout between newcomer Ariane Lipski and Octagon veteran Joanne Calderwood. This bout was originally set to take place at UFC 233, but was moved up a week to UFC on ESPN+ 1, which takes place January 19 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. I previously gave my thoughts on the Lipski vs. Calderwood fight in a recent edition of MMA odds and ends. Safe to say, I like Lipski quite a bit in this fight. It’s also worth mentioning that this card is just six weeks away and the UFC has still not determined the main event for it yet. With so many top-level fighters currently booked, it’s possible the UFC will be forced to shift a fight from another card to main event UFC on ESPN+ 1.