Another vacant title was captured this weekend at UFC Fight Night 172, this time in the UFC‘s flyweight division. In a rematch of their vacant title fight in February, Deiveson Figueiredo faced off against Joseph Benavidez. When the pair first met, Benavidez was the only fighter eligible to win the title as Figueiredo missed weight. Figueiredo would emerge victorious, forcing a rematch to be made so a champion could be crowned. This time around, both fighters made weight and were eligible to win gold.
Along with the vacant title fight, Kelvin Gastelum returned to the cage as he looked to snap a two fight losing streak. He would be facing off against rising middleweight contender, Jack Hermansson. Hermansson entered the fight a winner of four of his last five fights, with finishes over notable fighters. Each man looked to rebound from a previous loss and pick up a win to push themselves further up the ranks at 185.
The UFC’s Fight Island has done nothing but deliver as each card has been highly entertaining. This time around was no different as fights and fighters delivered with wild fights and finishes. Full of action from top to bottom, it is time to determine the five standout performances. In order for a fighter to make this list, their performance must stand out among their peers. This could be quick finishes, flashy knockouts, great submissions, dismantling an opponent, or providing an all-around exciting fight. Along with every performance will be a look at what could potentially come next for each fighter.
UFC Fight Night 172 Standout Performances
#1 Jack Hermansson
def. Kelvin Gastelum via Submission (Heel Hook) at 1:18 of Round One
Back in 2018, Jack Hermansson started his rise in the middleweight division. It was at that time he kickstarted a four fight win streak, beginning with a TKO win over Thales Leites. He would follow that up with two straight submission wins, defeating Gerald Meerschaert and David Branch by guillotine. Those wins earned him his first main event as he faced off against Ronaldo Souza at UFC Fight Night 150. After a hard fought five rounds, Hermansson was announced the winner by unanimous decision, his fourth straight victory. The win would earn him another main event as he faced off against Jared Cannonier at UFC Fight Night 160. Unfortunately, his win streak would come to an end that night, as he lost by second round TKO. Hermansson looked to rebound from the loss and pick up a big win over Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 172.
After two straight wins over former middleweight champion Michael Bisping and Ronaldo Souza, Kelvin Gastelum earned a shot at the interim middleweight title. He would face off against the undefeated Israel Adesanya at UFC 236 for the strap. Adesanya would go on to win that fight after a very entertaining five round fight. Following that fight, Adesanya would go on to be crowned the undisputed champion. Gastelum would go on to drop his second straight fight, losing a split decision to Darren Till. He looked to snap his losing streak as he entered the cage against Hermansson.
As the fight began the two met in the center of the octagon. Hermansson landed the first strikes of the night as he connected a leg kick followed by a kick to the body. Just over thirty seconds into the fight, Hermansson looked for a takedown only for it to be reversed by Gastelum. Hermansson was now on his back but with Gastelum standing over him, it did not take long for Hermansson to start fishing for a leg. He was quickly able to lock up a heel hook and it would not take long for Gastelum to tap, awarding Hermansson with the big win.
After the fight, Hermansson laid out a very detailed plan for what he sees happening in the future of the middleweight division. He believes that he should fight the winner of the upcoming main event between Robert Whittaker and Darren Till. Hermansson then believes that the winner of that fight should go on to face the winner of the upcoming title fight between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa. That seems like a good plan and one that could work, however, it leaves out Jared Cannonier. Cannonier has won his last three fights, with his most recent being a TKO win over Hermansson. While Hermansson’s plan seems like it could work, maybe Cannonier deserves the winner of Whittaker/Till. Meanwhile, Hermansson could face the winner of the potential upcoming fight between Yoel Romero and Uriah Hall.
#2 Deiveson Figueiredo
def. Joseph Benavidez via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:48 of Round One
Prior to their first meeting, Deiveson Figueiredo put together two straight wins. The first of those came at UFC 240 when he defeated Alexandre Pantoja by unanimous decision. He would follow that up with a submission win over Tim Elliott at UFC Fight Night 161. Those wins would earn him the shot at the vacant flyweight title as he was matched up with Joseph Benavidez at UFC Fight Night 169. Unforunately, Figueiredo missed weight prior to the first meeting and he was ineligible to win the title. However, he still went on to win the fight as he finished Benavidez in the second round by TKO. This time around, after making weight, he looked to do the same but leave with the title.
Before his first meeting with Figueiredo, Benavidez had put together a solid three fight win streak. It began at the TUF 28 Finale when he took on Alex Perez, winning by first round TKO. He then went on to face Dustin Ortiz at UFC Fight Night 143, winning that fight by unanimous decision. Finally, prior to his meeting with Figueiredo, he took on Jussier Formiga at UFC on ESPN 3. He won his third straight fight that night as he finished Formiga in the second round by TKO. After the disappointing first outing against Figueiredo, he looked to bounce back and capture the title in their second meeting at UFC Fight Night 172.
The fight began as both fighters traded body kicks in the center of the octagon moments into the fight. Just under a minute into the round, Benavidez threw a leg kick that was countered by a hard Figueiredo right hook, putting Benavidez down. Figueiredo immediately began pouring down ground and pound, landing hard elbows, looking for the finish. After eating some hard blows, Benavidez turned and gave up his back allowing Figueiredo to quickly start working on a choke. He was able to lock one up a few times however he was never all the way under the chin, allowing Benavidez the breathing room to escape. As Benavidez kept scrambling to get back to his feet, Figueiredo finally locked one up that was under the chin. Yet Benavidez still found a way to break the grip and escape.
Soon after, Benavidez was able to get back to his feet as the the two met in the center once again. With nearly a minute and half to go, Figueiredo landed an uppercut that sat Benavidez down once again, but he was able to get back to his feet quickly. With just under a minute left, Figueiredo knocked him down again with a perfect right hook. He jumped on him, landed some hard elbows before Benavidez gave up his back again. Figueiredo did not need to get under the chin this time as he choked Benavidez unconscious in seconds to become the UFC flyweight champion.
After more than six months, the flyweight division finally has a champion in Deiveson Figueiredo. Now what options does he have for his first title defense? The clear option at 125 is a match up with TUF alum Brandon Moreno. In his last four fights, Moreno has gone 3-0 with one draw against Askar Askarov. Among his wins, he holds a TKO victory over Maikel Perez. He also put together two straight unanimous decision wins over Kai Kara-France and Jussier Formiga.
An argument could be made for Askarov to get a shot as well as he holds two recent wins over Tim Elliott and Alexandre Pantoja. Another option, however, could be a match up with former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. Garbrandt has stated in the past that he would be interested in making the drop down to 125 and with a recent knockout win over Raphael Assuncao, he could skip the line. That would surely make for an entertaining fight as both fighters hold incredible knockout power.
#3 Ariane Lipski
def. Luana Carolina via Submission (Kneebar) at 1:28 of Round One
Making her UFC debut in 2019, Ariane Lipski unfortunately dropped her first two fights. The first of those losses came to Joanne Calderwood as she lost to her by unanimous decision. She would then go on to face Molly McCann at UFC Fight Night 154, losing that fight by unanimous decision as well. In her next outing, Lipski faced off against Isabela de Padua at UFC Fight Night 164. She picked up her first UFC win that night, defeating Padua by unanimous decision. She looked to make it two in a row entering her fight at UFC Fight Night 172.
Back in 2018, Luana Carolina made an appearance on the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series Brazil. She took on Mabelly Lima in that fight and would end up defeating her by unanimous decision. Carolina would end up making her UFC debut the following year as she faced Priscila Cachoeira at UFC 237. She ended up winning that fight as well by unanimous decision, earning her a fight with Lipski in her next outing.
Within the first twenty seconds of the fight, Lipski landed two hard body shots. The second shot sat Carolina down. Once on top, Lipski spent some time in Carolina’s guard before standing up and trying to pass the legs. In doing so, she nearly got herself locked in a heel hook but she recognized it and sat down, giving up her back. From this position, she grabbed hold of Carolina’s leg and began fishing for a kneebar. It did not take long for her to lock it up as she extended her opponent’s leg, causing Carolina to tap as she screamed in pain.
With the win making it two straight for Lipski, she could be looking at a top fifteen fighter in her next outing. One possibility could be a fight against Antonina Shevchenko who holds a similar record in the octagon of 2-2. In her last outing, Shevchenko met with former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian. After a dominant three rounds from the former title challenger, it was announced that Chookagian had won by unanimous decision. Since making her UFC debut in 2018, Shevchenko has gotten wins over Ji Yeon Kim and Lucie Pudilova. Her win over Kim came in her debut as she defeated her by unanimous decision. Following that win she would lose a split decision to Roxanne Modafferi before grabbing a submission win over Pudilova. Both these women have good striking and a decent ground game that could make this an interesting fight.
#4 Roman Dolidze
def. Khadis Ibragimov via TKO (Strikes) at 4:15 of Round One
Before earning a shot in the UFC, Roman Dolidze put together an impressive undefeated record of 6-0 outside the octagon. Five out of six of those wins came under the WWFC banner, with all those wins coming by finish. In his last three before making his UFC debut, Dolidze won them all by KO/TKO. His most recent fight took place in December 2018 when he faced Michal Pasternak at WWFC 13. He would win the fight, knocking his opponent out in the third round. He looked to make a statement in his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 172.
Standing across from him would be the former M-1 light heavyweight champion Khadis Ibragimov. Prior to entering the UFC, Ibragimov had also put together an undefeated record outside the octagon, sitting at 8-0. His UFC debut came in 2019 when he faced Da Un Jung at UFC Fight Night 157. His undefeated record would be tarnished that night as he went on to lose by third round submission. In his next outing, Ibragimov took on Ed Herman at UFC Fight Night 163. He dropped his second straight loss that night as Herman defeated him by unanimous decision. Heading into UFC Fight Night 172, Ibragimov looked to get back to his winning ways if he wanted to avoid getting cut.
The fight started and Dolidze quickly landed a hard leg kick to Ibragimov’s lead leg. As the minutes went by, Dolidze landed more and more leg kicks before trying to go high, but Ibragimov recognized it and blocked well. Ibragimov landed a nice combination of his own before throwing a leg kick of his own. But Doldize checked the kick well and Ibragimov showed that it hurt as he shook his leg out after.
With just under two minutes left, Dolidze once again attempted to go high with the kick, throwing an axe kick but failing to connect as he fell on his back. For about thirty seconds, Dolidze stayed on his back as he attempted to bait Ibragimov down with him. But it did not take long before Herb Dean stepped in to stand Dolidze up with just over a minute left. After landing many leg kicks during the first round, Dolidze went high once again. This time Ibragimov’s hands dropped and Dolidze’s knee connected flush to Ibragimov’s jaw, dropping him quickly. After some ground and pound shots, the fight was over.
After an impressive debut it is time to take a look at what could potentially be next for Dolidze. One potential fight could be a match up with fellow undefeated striker Jamahal Hill. Making his UFC debut earlier this year, Hill has put together a record of 2-0 in the octagon. His debut came against Darko Stosic at UFC Fight Night 166 as he defeated him by unanimous decision. His next outing came at UFC on ESPN 9 when he faced off against Klidson Abreu. He picked up his first finish in the octagon that night as he defeated Abreu by TKO in the first round. A fight between these two undefeated prospects could very well produce fireworks.
#5 Joel Alvarez
def. Joe Duffy via Submission (Guillotine) at 2:25 of Round One
It had been over three years since Joe Duffy last won a fight. That win came in March 2017 when he defeated Reza Madadi at UFC Fight Night 107. Since then, he had only fought a total of two times. He made one more appearance in 2017, taking on James Vick at UFC 217. He would lose to Vick that night as Vick finished him in the second round by TKO. After that loss, he would not return to the octagon again until March 2019 when he faced Marc Diakiese at UFC Fight Night 147. He dropped his second straight fight that night as Diakiese defeated him by unanimous decision. Duffy looked to get back on track as he entered the octagon on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 172.
Putting together an impressive 15-1 record outside of the UFC, Joel Alvarez made his octagon debut in 2019. He made his debut at UFC Fight Night 145 as he took on Damir Ismagulov. He would lose that fight, snapping his ten fight win streak, as Ismagulov defeated him by unanimous decision. In his next outing, he faced off against Danilo Belluardo at UFC Fight Night 153. He picked up his first UFC win that night as he defeated Belluardo by second round TKO. Alvarez looked to make it two in a row with a big win over Duffy at UFC Fight Night 172.
Duffy opened up the fight with a lot of kicks, landing to the body and to the legs right off the bat. Alvarez was quick to respond as he landed a hard jab followed by a leg kick of his own. Both fighters continued landing good combinations and hard leg kicks before Duffy shot in for a takedown just about halfway into the round. As he shot in, Alvarez jumped on the guillotine and it would not take long for Duffy to tap.
The win puts Alvarez at two in a row as now it is time to look at what could be next. After two straight and an impressive win over an opponent like Duffy, perhaps Alvarez could use a test in his next outing. One opponent that comes to mind is former featherweight fighter Renato Moicano. Moicano made his lightweight debut earlier this year after dropping two straight by TKO at 145.
In his debut, he faced Damir Hadzovic at UFC Fight Night 170. He defeated Hadzovic that night, picking up his first win at 155 pounds by first round submission. Giving Moicano to Alvarez will test Alvarez and a win could potentially earn him a ranked opponent or someone just outside of the top fifteen. Meanwhile a win for Moicano could prove that he has been rejuvenated with the move to lightweight and he could start making a climb towards the rankings.
Next week, the UFC will host their final event on Fight Island with what should be a very entertaining card. There will be seven fights on the main card, along with the eight preliminaries, meaning the card holds fifteen fights total. Capping it all off will be a middleweight main event between the former champion, Robert Whittaker and former welterweight title challenger, Darren Till.
This will be Whittaker’s first fight since he lost his title to Israel Adesanya while Till looks to make it two wins in a row in his new weight class. A win for Till could put him in the position of a title shot, however Jared Cannonier is sitting on a three fight win streak. He also currently sits at the fourth spot in the middleweight rankings. It will be very interesting to see how the title picture unfolds following this fight and the newly reported Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa fight.
Along with the middleweight main event, the co-main event features a light heavyweight trilogy. Their first meeting happened fifteen years ago when they were fighting for PRIDE, now Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira meet for a third time. The score currently sits at 2-0 Rua as he won the first by unanimous decision and then defeated him again ten years later by unanimous decision under the UFC banner. Plus, before that fight, Alexander Gustafsson makes his return from a short retirement as he moves up to the heavyweight division. He will be facing off against former UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum. So be sure to check back here next week for UFC on ESPN 14‘s Standout Performances.
MAIN IMAGE:Embed from Getty Images