Marc Castro Defeats Former MMA Fighter John Moraga by Second-Round KO

Marc Castro has taken down a UFC veteran…

The 21-year-old Latino boxer needed a single punch, eight seconds and a massive left jab to knock down UFC veteran John Moraga in the first round.

Marc Castro

From there, it was a matter of time before the junior lightweight prospect earned his second career KO in his second pro fight.

Castro (2-0, 2 KOs), of Fresno, California, knocked down Moraga (1-3, 1 KOs) three times in two rounds to register the knockout, finishing the fight with a left uppercut.

Moraga, of Phoenix, has had an impressive MMA career, with a 19-7 record and a UFC flyweight title shot in 2013 that he lost to Demetrious Johnson. His first knockout loss in boxing was Moraga’s third defeat in four pro bouts.

Castro is still very, very early in his pro career, but the friend of star fighter Ryan Garcia made easy work of an overmatched opponent.

UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo to Face Brandon Moreno in Highly Anticipated Rematch

Deiveson Figueiredo is getting a rematch…

The 33-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and reigning UFC flyweight champion will fight Brandon Moreno once again on June 12, according to ESPN.

Deiveson Figueiredo

A location for the event, which is expected to be UFC 263, isn’t set yet.

In December, Figueiredo (20-1-1) and Moreno (18-5-2) fought to an exhilarating draw that was considered one of the best bouts of 2020.

The fight capped off a memorable year for Figueiredo, the UFC’s flyweight champion, who went 3-0-1 last year and was considered the consensus male fighter of the year. He won the flyweight title in July when he defeated Joseph Benavidez.

 

Both Figueiredo and Moreno are unbeaten in their past six fights.

Jessica Andrade to Fight Defending UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko 

Jessica Andrade is taking on a champion…

The 29-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former strawweight champion is set to take on defending UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261, according to Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White.

Jessica Andrade

The 125-pound title fight will take place at the April 24 pay-per-view event, for which the UFC hasn’t yet finalized a location. It will mark Shevchenko’s fifth attempted title defense.

Shevchenko (20-3) has dominated the weight class since she dropped to 125 pounds from 135 pounds in 2018. She won the vacant belt by defeating another former strawweight champion in Joanna Jedrzejczyk in late 2018, then has looked more or less unbeatable in defenses against Jessica EyeLiz CarmoucheKatlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia.

Andrade (21-8) is widely perceived as the greatest threat to Shevchenko’s reign.

She won the UFC’s 115-pound championship by knocking out Rose Namajunas in May 2019 before surrendering the belt to current champ Zhang Weili three months later. She moved up to the 125-pound division in October, and scored a first-round knockout over Chookagian.

ESPN ranks Shevchenko and Andrade the No. 2 and No. 6 female pound-for-pound fighters in the world, respectively.

Julianna Peña to Fight Holly Holm in Non-Title UFC Bout This May

Julianna Peña is taking on a former champion…

The 31-year-old mixed Mexican & Venezuelan American martial artist will face former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm in a non-title bout in May, announced Ultimate Fighting Championship officials.

Julianna Pena

The 135-pound contest will take place on a UFC Fight Night event on May 8. The UFC has not yet announced an official location for the event.

Peña (10-4), the first woman to win The Ultimate Fighter, is coming off a submission win against former title challenger Sara McMann at UFC 257 last month in Abu Dhabi.

Fighting out of Chicago, Peña is 2-1 in her past three appearances, with the loss coming against another former title challenger and featherweight champion in Germaine de Randamie. A win against Holm would catapult her into title contention at 135.

Holm (14-5) is coming off back-to-back unanimous decision wins, against Raquel Pennington in January 2020 and Irene Aldana in October. Her last loss came in a bantamweight title fight against dual-weight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 239 in July 2019. Holm’s past three losses have come with a championship on the line, going back to 2017.

Fighting out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Holm, 39, will make her fourth straight appearance at 135 pounds, but she has also competed at 145 pounds.

Chris Gutierrez to Fight Andrew Ewell in UFC’s Upcoming UFC 258 Event

Chris Gutierrez is stepping up, and stepping in…

The 29-year-old Guatemalan and Colombian American mixed martial artist will face off against Andrew Ewell in UFC’s UFC 258.

Chris Gutierrez

Gutierrez and Ewell were called up after a the UFC cancelled a scheduled bantamweight contender bout on Saturday between Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera due to a coronavirus-related issue, the UFC announced.

Sources said the promotion is attempting to rebook the matchup as soon as later this month.

In its place, Gutierrez and Ewell will meet in a 140-pound catchweight bout. Ewell was pulled from last Saturday’s UFC Fight Night due to a positive COVID-19 test that he said was a false positive.

Gutierrez has a 15-4-2 mixed martial arts record, including a draw in his last fight in August 2020 against Cody Durden.

UFC Star Diego Sanchez to Fight Donald Cerrone This Spring

Diego Sanchez is set to battle a former teammate…

The 39-year-old Mexican American professional mixed martial artist and Donald Cerrone, two of the biggest fan favorites in UFC history — and a pair of former teammates — will fight this spring.

Diego Sanchez

Sanchez and Cerrone have verbally agreed to a May 8 contest, according to ESPN.

The bout will be contested at welterweight, sources said.

While both fighters’ respective teams have agreed, no contracts have been signed and the fight has not yet been officially announced.

Sanchez wrote Thursday on Twitter that the bout against Cerrone will be his “UFC finale.”

Sanchez and Cerrone were training partners for many years at the storied JacksonWink MMA gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but had a falling out in 2018 when Cerrone left the team. Sanchez has since left JacksonWink MMA, as well.

In 2005, Sanchez (30-13) in 2005 was the first-ever tournament winner on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, which is credited with helping take the UFC to the next level in terms of popularity. His 2009 fight with Clay Guida was inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame’s fight wing in 2019.

Sanchez is tied for the second most Fight of the Night bonuses in UFC history (7). The New Mexico native is coming off a loss to Jake Matthews at UFC 253 in September, but has won three of his last five fights.

Cerrone (36-15, 2 NC) is a surefire future UFC Hall of Famer and one of the best fighters of all time who has not held a UFC title. “Cowboy” owns the most wins in UFC history (23), the most finishes in UFC history (16) and the most post-fight bonuses in promotion history (18). He is tied for the most UFC fights with Jim Miller (36). Cerrone, 36, is winless in five straight and trying to pick up his first victory since May 2019.

Amanda Nunes’ UFC Featherweight Title Fight Against Megan Anderson Rebooked for March

Amanda Nunes is marching forward…

A featherweight title fight between the 32-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, a two-weight champion, and Megan Anderson has been rebooked for March 6, according to UFC officials.

Amanda Nunes

The 145-pound championship fight was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 256 on December 12, however Nunes was forced to withdraw because of health issues. The UFC has not formally announced a name or location for the March 6 card, however it’s expected to be a UFC 259 pay-per-view event.

Originally from Brazil now fighting out of Florida, Nunes (20-4) is the No. 1 pound-for-pound female fighter in the world according to ESPN. This will mark the second consecutive defense of her featherweight title. She also holds the UFC’s 135-pound bantamweight championship, which she last defended against Germaine de Randamie in December 2019.

 

Anderson (10-4) is a former Invicta FC featherweight champion, with a 3-2 record in the UFC. She has finished both of her last two fights in the first round, and has recorded finishes in all but one of her pro wins.

Yoel Romero Signs New Multi-Fight Deal with Bellator

Yoel Romero is preparing to fight for a new partner…

The 43-year-old Cuban mixed martial artist and former freestyle wrestler, and a multiple-time UFC title challenger, has agreed to a new multi-fight deal with Bellator, according to ESPN.

Yoel Romero

Romero is expected to sign his new deal imminently.

The deal comes less than two weeks after the UFC released Romero after more than seven years in the promotion.

Initially, Bellator officials passed on Romero, but after further talks, the two sides were able to come to an agreement.

Romero is expected to debut at 205 pounds, which is the weight class in which he started his career. His debut fight and date are not set yet.

His most recent fight was a loss to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya via unanimous decision in March. Both Romero and Adesanya received criticism after the fight because it did not live up to expectations.

Romero won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. He made his MMA debut in 2009 and his UFC debut in 2013. He won his first eight fights inside the Octagon before losing an interim middleweight title fight to Robert Whittaker in July 2017. He fought for the interim or undisputed middleweight title four times but never won the UFC belt.

UFC’s Dominick Cruz to Fight Casey Kenney in March

Dominick Cruz is heading back to the Octagon

The 35-year-old Mexican American professional mixed martial artist and former UFC bantamweight champion (22-3) has agreed to fight up-and-comer Casey Kenney (16-2-1) at UFC 259 on March 6, according to ESPN.

Dominick Cruz

The fight will mark Cruz’s first non-title bout in more than six years. He last fought in May, when he lost to then-bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo via second-round TKO.

That was Cruz’s first fight in 3 1/2 years. His last victory came in June 2016 at UFC 199 versus rival Urijah Faber.

Cruz, a former WEC 135-pound champion as well, has been dealing with a litany of leg and upper body injuries for almost 10 years.

Kenney, 29, has won three fights in a row and five of six in the UFC. He most recently defeated Nathaniel Wood via unanimous decision in October.

The event doesn’t have a headliner just yet, nor does it have a confirmed location.

Deiveson Figueiredo Easily Defends UFC Flyweight Title Against Alex Perez

Deiveson Figueiredo has easily retained his title…

The 32-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist finished Alex Perez via guillotine choke at 1 minute, 57 seconds of the first round on Saturday night to retain the UFC flyweight title in the main event of UFC 255 in Las Vegas.

Deiveson Figueiredo

The incredibly fast, explosive Figueiredo found Perez’s neck in a scramble, locked in the choke and squeezed until Perez tapped out. It was Figueiredo’s first title defense.

“I came to the flyweight division to knock out, to submit everybody,” Figueiredo said. “To bring back the excitement, show the world the power of the flyweight division. I always thought I was gonna save this weight class, because people don’t know my power.”

Figueiredo, nicknamed “God of War,” and his dynamic, all-action style has reinvigorated the 125-pound weight class.

“If you don’t like this guy, stop watching fights,” UFC president Dana White said. “You need to find a new hobby if you don’t like watching him.

“Obviously I’m glad we didn’t [get rid of flyweight]. The division needed a little bit of rebuilding. We rebuilt it, and this is the result.”

White said at the postfight news conference that Figueiredo won’t return to Brazil after this fight and will instead stay in Las Vegas to defend his title again in December.

The plan, White said, is to have Figueiredo fight top contender Brandon Moreno, who beat Brandon Royval in the UFC 255 prelims.

Sources confirmed to ESPN that Figueiredo and Moreno had verbally agreed to fight at UFC 256 on December 12.

Figueiredo asked for Moreno in his postfight interview.

“Dana, make this happen,” Figueiredo said. “That’s the fight that I want to happen.”

Going in, ESPN had Figueiredo ranked No. 2 (behind Johnson) and Perez at No. 5 in the world at flyweight. ESPN also has Figueiredo ranked No. 8 in the world in its pound-for-pound rankings.