The UFC’s penultimate pay-per-view of 2020 takes place on November 21 in Las Vegas. Both flyweight titles will be on the line, with men’s champion Deiveson Figueiredo making his first title defense against Alex Perez, while women’s champ Valentina Shevchenko looks to extend her reign at 125 lbs when she takes on Brazil’s Jennifer Maia.
This may not be a star-studded show compared to previous UFC pay-per-views from the summer, but there are a lot of exciting, well-matched fights that really should make for some great Saturday night entertainment. Before the opening prelims of UFC 255 kick off, let’s look at some of the fighters on this card who are poised to rack up high scores for your DraftKings fantasy MMA teams.
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Deiveson Figueiredo ($9,000) vs. Alex Perez ($7,200) - Men’s Flyweights
Figueiredo’s 2020 has consisted of absolutely thumping Joseph Benavidez. He knocked out Benavidez in their first fight for the vacant title, but Deiveson missed weight and the belt remained vacant as a result. The rematch was even more lopsided and Figueiredo submitted Benavidez in a round. Figueiredo boasts a 19-1 record (8-1 in the UFC) and is one of the few flyweights who is a devastating finisher. His first title defense was supposed to be against former bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt, but his injury has created an incredible opportunity for Alex Perez. The 28-year-old may have a TKO loss to Joseph Benavidez, but his title shot comes after he dominated and stopped Jussier Formiga, the only man to ever beat Figueiredo. Perez’s trajectory suggested a title shot was inevitable for him, so this just speeds up the process.
Perez is a live underdog here. He has very good wrestling, strong leg kicks (as Formiga found out), and his own power isn’t to be scoffed at. However, it’ll be incredibly difficult to neutralize Figueiredo’s offense, especially since he’s dangerous both on the feet and on the ground. I believe Perez will give Figueiredo some difficulties with his takedowns and striking, but there’s too much firepower coming back and Deiveson has the better chin. It’ll be “...and still!” for Figueiredo when all is said and done.
Number of note: 8. Figueiredo is an incredibly powerful striker for his size. In nine UFC fights he has recorded eight knockdowns, already the most in the eight-year history of the division.
Valentina Shevchenko ($9,600) vs. Jennifer Maia ($6,600) - Women’s Flyweights
Shevchenko has looked virtually unbeatable since dropping down to flyweight in 2018. In her last outing she easily stopped Katlyn Chookagian by ground-and-pound TKO to cap off her third defense. Her highlight reel moment remains the head kick KO of Jessica Eye last year. Maia was defeated by Chookagian in that No. 1 contender bout last year, and to make matters worse she missed weight for the second fight running. When Joanne Calderwood opted to face Maia instead of wait for Shevchenko, Maia essentially took her title shot away with a surprising first-round armbar finish. Talk about a turn of events.
Now as great as that win was for Maia, it’s safe to say that she will need the performance of her life to get the win. Unsurprisingly, she is the cheapest fighter and heaviest underdog on DraftKings Sportsbook on this card by a considerable distance. Maia is a really good fighter but Shevchenko is better than her in every facet of the sport. Expect the champ to outmuscle and outclass Maia on her way to keeping her belt.
Number of note: 1. To give you an idea of Shevchenko’s dominance, she has only lost one out of the 20 rounds she’s fought in her five UFC flyweight fights.
Tim Means ($8,000) vs. Mike Perry ($8,200) - Welterweights
Don’t write off Tim Means just yet. The 36-year-old may have suffered a couple of difficult losses in recent times, but “The Dirty Bird” showed in his win over Laureano Staropoli showed that his offensive skills are still there. Perry picked up a much-needed victory over Mickey Gall in June, ending a two-fight losing skid against contenders Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque. “Platinum” loves to get into brawls, and he’s surely destined for one against Means, who’s replacing the injured Robbie Lawler.
This is a surefire candidate for Fight of the Night. Means is definitely the more technical, pinpoint striker and he’s definitely not a slouch on the ground. Perry has the power advantage, and there is still reason to worry about Means’ damage resistance, so he has an obvious path to victory. I feel like Perry has regressed in recent fights, and for that reason I’ve got Means for the short notice upset.
Number of note: 30. Means and Perry have 44 combined professional wins, and 30 of them have come via knockout or TKO. Means as 19 out of 30 wins, while Perry has 11 out of 14.
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Brandon Royval ($7,600) vs. Brandon Moreno ($8,600) - Men’s Flyweights
Royval has become a serious contender in next to no time at all. His two UFC appearances have been nothing short of spectacular, submitting former title challenger Tim Elliott on late notice and following that up with an impressive guillotine choke of Kai Kara-France at UFC 253. As for his fellow Brandon, Moreno has made the most of his return to the Octagon after a surprise release in 2018. After a draw with Askar Askarov, “The Assassin Baby” has picked up consecutive wins over Kai Kara-France and most recently Jussier Formiga. If the winner of this one isn’t lined up for a title shot next, then they’re at least on the cusp.
Moreno is definitely the cleaner striker of the two, whereas Royval is often wild and it could get him into trouble down the line. Ultimately this will boil down to how much Royval can trouble Moreno with his grappling and any scrambles that come of it. Chances are we see Moreno take the fight late if Royval can’t end it early, because his pace is out of this world. I like Royval to get the W and continue his rapid rise up the ranks.
Number of note: 11. Royval has finished his opponent in 11 of his 12 career wins, but is just 1-4 when it goes the distance. Moreno is 5-5-1 when it goes to the scorecards.
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