Deiveson Figueiredo to Fight Cody Garbrandt at UFC 300

Deiveson Figueiredo is heading back to the Octagon.

The 36-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, a former two-time UFC flyweight champion, will fight former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt at UFC 300.

Deiveson FigueiredoThe bantamweight matchup will take place on April 13 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, UFC CEO Dana White has announced.

Garbrandt (14-5) publicly called out Figueiredo after his knockout of Brian Kelleher at UFC 296 last month.

The two were supposed to fight for Figueiredo’s 125-pound championship in 2020, but Garbrandt withdrew with an injured bicep.

Originally from Ohio and now fighting out of Las Vegas, Garbrandt has regained his footing at 135 pounds with back-to-back wins over Kelleher and Trevin Giles. It’s the first time he has won consecutive fights since 2016. He went 1-5 in six appearances from 2017 to 2022, during which he endured multiple injuries.

Figueiredo moved up to the 135-pound division for his latest fight, a unanimous decision over Rob Font last month. He had a notoriously difficult time making the 125-pound weight limit, and has already claimed a No. 8 rank at bantamweight.

The UFC has not yet announced a main event for UFC 300.

Gabriela Fundora to Defend IBF Flyweight Title Against Christina Cruz Next Month

Gabriela Fundora is going on the defensive….

The 21-year-old Mexican American professional boxer has agreed to fight Christina Cruz for Fundora’s IBF flyweight title on January 27 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, according to ESPN.

Gabriela FundoraThe fight will be on the undercard of the Jaime MunguiaJohn Ryder super middleweight bout.

Fundora (12-0, 5 KOs) won the title by defeating Arely Mucino by fifth-round KO in October. Fundora, ESPN‘s No. 2 flyweight, scored two knockdowns in that fight, showcasing power and great technique.

The fighter from Coachella, California, also earned decision victories over Tania Garcia and Maria Micheo Santizo in 2023, after fighting five times in 2022. Fundora was expected to face WBC, WBO and WBA flyweight champion Marlen Esparza to crown an undisputed champion, but that fight will have to wait.

Fundora is trained by her father, Freddy Fundora, and is the younger sister of former junior middleweight interim champion Sebastian Fundora.

Cruz (6-0), of New York, is the IBF No. 5 ranked fighter in the division. She competed three times in 2023, all one-sided decision victories over Josefina Vega, Nancy Franco and Amy Salinas. She turned professional in 2021 after a long amateur career of more than 130 fights.

This is a big step up for Cruz on her first title fight. She’s never fought more than eight rounds, and her opponents have a combined record of 38 wins and 31 losses.

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez Defeats Sunny Edwards to Unify WBO & IBF Flyweight Titles

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez is celebrating a big win…

The 23-year-old Mexican American professional boxer registered a ninth-round stoppage of Sunny Edwards on Saturday evening in Glendale, Ariz., to unify the WBO and IBF flyweight titles in an action fight.

Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez,Rodriguez slowly broke down Edwards before he floored the Englishman at the end of Round 9 with a jab to the body followed by an overhand left. Edwards crashed into the canvas face-first — a face that was severely marked up — but managed to survive.

There was a deep gash over Edwards’ right eye and his left eye was also cut up. Edwards said he couldn’t see out of either eye by the conclusion, which came when his corner halted the bout following Round 9.

“I brought something out of him tonight that he couldn’t handle,” said Rodriguez, who was named ESPN‘s No. 1 boxer under 25 years old last week. ” … He was a lot quicker than I thought; a lot smarter than I thought . … I made him wanna fight … He got caught.”

Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage: 89-81, 87-87 and 87-83.

The San Antonio native entered the ring ESPN’s No. 1 boxer at 112 pounds. Following a sound defeat of the No. 2 fighter in the weight class, Rodriguez could return to 115 pounds, where he was once a champion.

Future Hall of Famer Juan Francisco Estrada was ringside; both Rodriguez and promoter Eddie Hearn indicated the 115-pound champion from Mexico could be next.

“Up close, that was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen,” Hearn said. “This kid is super special. … You talk about pound-for-pound great fighters. Sometimes the lower division don’t get the credit they deserve.”

Rodriguez emerged from his most recent fight, a decision over Cristian Gonzalez Hernandez in August, with a broken jaw. But as “Bam” absorbed several clean overhand lefts during the first few rounds, he proved he was fully recovered.

He established an active southpaw jab from the opening bell, a punch that served as a tablesetter for his heavy left hands but also controlled range.

Rodriguez used that stiff jab as a power punch, too. In Round 2, the jab left Edwards with a large welt around his left eye. The 27-year-old said he couldn’t see from that point.

Edwards (20-1, 4 KOs) is known for his boxing ability, defense and footwork, but he elected to sit down on his shots and exchange with Rodriguez in the pocket from Round 3 onward. Edwards often switched to southpaw and unleashed overhand lefts that met their mark.

He began to beat “Bam” to the punch. However, Edwards had only scored four KOs in his 20 victories, and the power wasn’t enough to fend off Rodriguez’s sweltering pressure.

Rodriguez started to impose his size and as the rounds ticked by, his heavier, cleaner shots started to sap Edwards’ legs.

“Bam” stunned Edwards in the closing moments of Round 6 before he dropped his hands, allowing Edwards to catch him with a series of shots.

“I was confident the whole fight,” Rodriguez said. “Maybe too confident.”

It didn’t matter. Edwards was reeling by the end of Round 8 as Rodriguez began to batter him with a bundle of power shots.

Edwards tried to slug it out with Rodriguez in a gutsy display down the stretch, but Rodriguez was simply too strong, too powerful and too good.

“I couldn’t just keep moving, and moving and moving,” Edwards said. “His feet are too good for that, his lead hand was too good for that. I had to make him miss and try to land…

“The better man won tonight, no excuses. It wasn’t my night tonight but I’ll definitely be back for sure.”

Alexandre Pantoja Outworks Brandon Royval to Retain UFC Flyweight Championship

It’s a successful defense for Alexandre Pantoja.

The 33-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist secured the first defense of his flyweight championship on Saturday, outworking Brandon Royval in a clear decision victory in the co-main event at UFC 296 inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

Alexandre Pantoja

Pantoja (27-5) looked gassed midway through the five-round affair, but still managed to dominate Royval (15-7) on the ground en route to unanimous judges scores of 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.

For Pantoja, it was his second victory over Royval.

The two met as rising contenders in August 2021, with Pantoja winning by submission.

“The fight was maybe boring. I don’t like to do that [kind of fight],” said Pantoja, who racked up nearly 16 minutes of top control, according to UFC Stats. “I needed to keep this belt for my family and Brazil. Brazil needs some [role models] right now. It’s a very hard place right now.”

Royval looked fresh at the end of the five rounds, but he simply had no answer for Pantoja’s grappling. Royval did well landing his jab and obviously commanded Pantoja’s respect on the feet, but he surrendered eight total takedowns — even in later rounds, when it was clear Pantoja was struggling with the pace.

“I felt a little dizzy during this fight,” Pantoja said. “This guy keeps a level that doesn’t stop any time, five rounds. I love that kid. He grew up [since the first fight]. I knew he was coming here to take the belt and I stayed here to defend.”

In addition to just getting Royval to the canvas, Pantoja was also effective at scoring offense and threatening submissions once he had him there. He passed Royval’s guard on several occasions and very nearly tapped him with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round.

Pantoja had his moments on the feet as well. He clipped Royval with a right hand in the second round that left him visibly shaken, and his kicks to the body were a good weapon, particularly earlier in the fight. Royval seized momentum in the fifth with a steady jab, but Pantoja eventually took him down to squash out the threat.

Pantoja has established himself as the clear No. 1 flyweight in the world. In addition to defeating Royval twice, he has defeated former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno three times, including an exhibition fight on The Ultimate Fighter reality series.

Brandon Moreno to Fight Amir Albazi in UFC Fight Night in Mexico City Next February

Brandon Moreno is preparing for a battle south of the border…

The 30-year-old Mexican mixed martial artist and former UFC flyweight champion will fight Amir Albazi in a flyweight contender bout on February 24 in Mexico City, Moreno has confirmed.

Brandon MorenoThe five-round bout will serve as the co-main event on the UFC Fight Night card, which will be the promotion’s first trip to Mexico since 2019.

ESPN has Moreno ranked No. 2 in the world at flyweight and Albazi at No. 4.

Moreno (21-7-2) is a former two-time UFC flyweight champion and the first-ever Mexican-born UFC champ. The Tijuana native dropped the title in a close split decision to Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 290 in July. Moreno was on a two-fight winning streak before the loss to Pantoja.

Moreno will also act as the official backup for the UFC 296 co-main event on December 16 in Las Vegas, according to ESPN, confirming news first reported by Eurosport Netherland.

Pantoja will defend the UFC flyweight title against Brandon Royval, and if either competitor is forced to withdraw, then Moreno will step in and compete.

Albazi (17-1) has won six in a row, most recently a split decision win over Kai Kara-France in June. The Iraq native is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC. Albazi, 30, previously won titles in Ultimate Challenge MMA and FightStar Championship.

Moreno has not fought in his home country since becoming the first Mexican-born UFC champion in 2021.

“I want to go there and win and celebrate with my people and [wave] the Mexican flag,” Moreno told ESPN. “It’s something special for me. I’m Mexican. At the end of the day, I’m working for that. I want to give more opportunities to the Mexican fighters.”

Gabriela Fundora Scores TKO Victory Over Arely Mucino to Claim IBF Flyweight Title in First Attempt

Gabriela Fundora is officially a titleholder…

The 21-year-old Latina professional boxer scored two knockdowns en route to a fifth-round TKO victory over IBF flyweight champion Arely Mucino to claim the title.

Gabriela FundoraFundora threw punch after punch, finding the face and body of Mucino over and over again. It was clinical from the opening bell until the fight was stopped less than 10 minutes later.

In the end, Fundora (12-0, 5 KO) defeated Mucino to win the IBF flyweight belt in her first title fight.

“We just stayed calm,” Fundora said in the post-fight interview on DAZN. “We’re not going to go rushing into the fight. That’s not smart. So we just stay calm, stay focused and stay in attack.

Gabriela Fundora“And honestly at the end of the first round, we saw that she was hurt so I knew from there it was going to be a long night.”

A long night, at least, for Mucino (32-4-2, 11 KO), who was making the first defense of the title. She had also held the IBF, WBC and WBO flyweight belts earlier in her career.

This was Mucino’s first loss since 2015 and the second stoppage loss in her career — she lost the IBF belt the first time in a second round knockout against Ava Knight in 2011.

This fight took a little longer, but was a high-level performance from Fundora, ESPN’s No. 5 flyweight and a rising star in the sport since she turned pro at age 18. Fundora landed 136 of 305 punches throughout the four-plus rounds — a 45% connect rate — while Mucino landed 31 of 177 punches.

It was the third win in as many fights for Fundora in 2023, and her first stoppage since last April. Mucino, ESPN’s No. 2 flyweight, was also the toughest opponent Fundora had faced in only her third 10-round fight.

Trained by her father, Freddy Fundora, and often working out with her brother, former WBC interim junior middleweight champion Sebastian Fundora, they had been angling for this moment for over a year. And now, it finally came.

After the victory, she said her mom had cannolis ready to celebrate in their home outside Bakersfield, California.

“I’m just going to go enjoy that, enjoy this belt and enjoy the victory with my loved ones and my family,” Fundora said. “Take each step as it comes.”

Deiveson Figueiredo to Make Bantamweight Debut in December

Deiveson Figueiredo is movin’ on up…

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist will make his long-awaited move up to bantamweight before the end of the year.

Deiveson FigueiredoThe former two-time UFC flyweight champion will face Rob Font in a contender bout at UFC Fight Night on December 2.

Figueiredo was first scheduled to return to flyweight over the summer, but he withdrew due to injury and decided to move up a division.

ESPN has Figueiredo ranked No. 4 in the world at flyweight and Font ranked No. 10 at bantamweight.

Figueiredo (21-3-1) has not fought since losing the flyweight title to Brandon Moreno via TKO last January at UFC 283. He went 1-2-1 against Moreno in their tetralogy. Figueiredo is tied with Demetrious Johnson for the most finishes in UFC flyweight history (7).

Font (20-7) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to top contender Cory Sandhagen on August 5. The 36-year-old Massachusetts native has dropped three of four.

Alexandre Pantoja Defeats Brandon Moreno via Split Decision to Claim UFC Flyweight Belt

Alexandre Pantoja is officially a titleholder…

After five hard-fought rounds, the 33-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist (26-5) claimed Brandon Moreno‘s 125-pound championship, as he narrowly edged the defending champion via split decision in the co-main event of UFC 290 inside T-Mobile Arena.

Alexandre PantojaTwo of the judges scored the title fight 48-47 for Pantoja, while a third had it 49-46 in Moreno’s favor.

UFC president Dana White said afterward that Moreno suffered a broken hand in the first round.

Saturday’s bout officially marked Pantoja’s second win over Moreno (21-7-2), although it’s really his third.

Pantoja submitted Moreno in a bout on The Ultimate Fighter reality show in 2016, but that result didn’t count toward their professional records as it took place as part of the show. They fought again in 2018, with Pantoja claiming a unanimous decision.

Saturday’s contest was the closest and most skilled to date.

“Moreno evolved so much,” Pantoja said. “I don’t expect a tough guy like that tonight, but I worked so hard for this. The last two years, I worked so hard, bringing my family to the U.S. [from Brazil] and my camp to American Top Team. … Guys, if you know my story, you’re gonna love me. I’ve worked so hard for that.”

The final numbers of the fight reflected just how close it was. According to UFC Stats, Moreno slightly outlanded Pantoja 167-161 in total strikes. Pantoja did better work on the ground, however. He took Moreno’s back multiple times and racked up more than eight minutes of control time. Moreno proved to be very tricky to hold down, but Pantoja maintained slightly dominant positions in crucial moments, which might have proved key on the scorecards.

Pantoja also dropped Moreno in the opening round with a nasty left hook. Moreno, 29, recovered quickly and never appeared close to going out, but Pantoja hurt him again with another left hook later in the round. Moreno roared back in the second round behind arguably one of the best jabs in MMA. He doubled and tripled up the jab on Pantoja, occasionally ripping in left hooks to the body and head.

Moreno’s shots bloodied Pantoja’s forehead and nose by the third round, but Pantoja’s takedowns, work in the clinch and body shots of his own all made for strong answers to Moreno’s offense. The pace of the fight finally slowed a little in the fourth and fifth rounds when Pantoja worked his way into threatening grappling positions and Moreno was forced into a bit of caution.

The victory snaps a two-fight streak in title fights for Moreno, who is from Tijuana, Mexico.

Earlier this year, he closed out a very rare four-fight rivalry against another Brazilian in Deiveson Figueiredo. Moreno unified the flyweight belt by finishing Figueiredo in the third round of their final meeting in January, but now surrenders the belt in his first attempted defense.

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez Claims WBO’s Vacant Flyweight Title Despite Jaw Injury vs. Cristian Gonzalez

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez has secured a new division title…

The 23-year-old Mexican American boxer, who moved down to flyweight, secured the WBO‘s vacant 112-pound championship with a unanimous-decision win over Cristian Gonzalez (118-110, 117-111, 116-112) at the Boeing Center at Tech Port in San Antonio.

Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez,But when Rodriguez spoke in his post-fight interview, it was immediately clear that not all went right for the promising boxer in another hometown victory. Rodriguez said he battled through a broken jaw against a very feisty opponent to add to his growing list of accolades.

Rodriguez became a two-division world champion, following up a year in which he won the WBC‘s junior bantamweight title. But despite the feat, he said he wasn’t pleased with his showing.

“It wasn’t the best performance,” Rodriguez said in a brief postfight interview with DAZN. “I’ will admit that.”

Rodriguez (18-0, 11 KOs) was bleeding from his mouth by the end of the fight and said he could barely speak after he suffered the injury against Gonzalez (15-2, 5 KOs), who was a heavy underdog entering the fight.

“I guess I got caught with my mouth open,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the injury likely occurred sometime around the sixth round. It came during a stretch when Rodriguez was controlling the action in the ring, peppering Gonzalez with a barrage of body shots that opened up power punches to the head.

But as the fight continued, Gonzalez regained some of the form he showed early in the fight, sticking Rodriguez with straight punches from the outside while he constantly moved around the ring.

Rodriguez’s injury complicated what was expected to be a showcase performance for someone who had knockout wins over Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2022, with both of those performances coming in San Antonio.

It also makes things a bit tricky for Rodriguez’s long-term outlook.

Saturday night marked his first fight in the flyweight division. Before the fight, Matchroom Boxing chairman Eddie Hearn pointed out that with a Rodriguez victory, three of the four champions in the 112-pound weight class would be promoted by Matchroom. And with the matchmaking relatively simple, Hearn was eyeing a potential undisputed championship fight.

“We want to wrap up these belts with one champion,” Hearn told DAZN.

Hearn said he wanted Rodriguez to face Sunny Edwards, the IBF champion based out of London. Rodriguez confirmed those plans after his win against Gonzalez.

“That’s the only option,” Rodriguez said.

However, that option might have to wait. After Saturday’s fight, Hearn told DAZN that with Rodriguez’s broken jaw and the recovery timeline, Edwards might need an interim bout before a potential showdown with the newest flyweight champion.

“It’s just about timing now,” Hearn said. “Obviously, with that injury, if that jaw is broken, that’s going to keep him out probably the back end of the year. Sunny needs to fight.”

UFC Finalizes Fight Between Henry Cejudo and Aljamain Sterling at UFC 288

It’s official: Henry Cejudo is heading back to the Octagon soon.

After some starts and stops, the UFC 288 main event is now official with the 36-year-old Mexican American mixed martial artist and freestyle wrestler among those set to participate.

Henry CejudoAljamain Sterling will defend his UFC bantamweight title against the former champion on May 6 in Newark, New Jersey, the promotion officially announced Friday.

Cejudo is making his return from retirement after three years away.

While both men had verbally agreed to the matchup weeks ago, there was some consternation this week. The UFC sent out a press release for UFC 288 on Tuesday without mentioning the main event, a rarity. Sterling posted on social media that Cejudo was holding things up and he teased a fight with popular up-and-comer Sean O’Malley instead. Ultimately, things were hammered out leading to the announcement Friday.

ESPN has Sterling tied for eighth in its pound-for-pound MMA rankings. Cejudo is a former UFC bantamweight and flyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist in wrestling.

Sterling (22-3) has won eight straight fights and is coming off a second-round TKO win over former champ TJ Dillashaw in October at UFC 280. The Long Island, New York native has two successful title defenses. Sterling, 33, won the belt in a disqualification (illegal knee) against Petr Yan at UFC 259 in March 2021 and then beat Yan via split decision in a rematch.

Cejudo (16-2) has not fought since he successfully defended the title via second-round TKO over former champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in May 2020. The Arizona resident announced his retirement after that bout, but he officially returned by re-entering the USADA drug-testing pool in early 2022. Cejudo has won six straight, including stopping Demetrious Johnson‘s UFC record title-defense streak at 11 by winning the UFC flyweight title in 2018.