The UFC is back in Austin this weekend with a high-quality main card that’ll feature the bantamweight debut of former UFC flyweight champion Deveison Figueiredo as he takes on Rob Font.
Font’s coming off a five-round decision loss against Cory Sandhagen on short notice back in August, while Figueiredo has spent the better part of the last three years at war with Brandon Moreno. Both men are 35+ years old but are looking to make one final push to the title before they call it a career.
While there’s been some shifting, Font has been the slight favorite in the matchup since the line opened:
It’s been three years since Deiveson Figueiredo has fought someone not named Brandon Moreno, but will be doing so in a new weight division as he makes his debut at 135 lbs. Figueiredo, 35, has made a name for himself as one of the hardest-hitting flyweights in the world but is also a high-level grappler. He’s finished 7 of his 10 wins in the UFC and 17 of his 21 professional wins.
Figueiredo has adopted a more counter striking approach during the Moreno-saga but beforehand would bully the often much smaller flyweights with heavy kicks and powerful counters. Though he attacked Moreno’s front leg to negate the movement, he didn’t target the head and body from southpaw as much as we’ve seen previously. I’d like to see him get back to coming forward with kicks and putting his opponent along the cage where he can force engagements that favor his heavy hitting style.
The timing of Figueiredo has been an impressive and pivotal part of his game on the feet. He has great counters with both his lead hand and his power hand which is rare to see; most fighters will favor one or the other but Deiveson seems to use the success of one to set up the other, confident that either can end the fight. He used this same timing to shoot for single leg takedowns on Moreno which I think will play a big role in this fight against Font.
We haven’t seen much of Figueiredo offensively on the ground since he’s joined the UFC but when he’s in top position, he seems to seek out strikes or submissions, not as much control. He has a great guillotine that he finished Alex Perez and Tim Elliott with and threatened Moreno with as well. Though it likely won’t be of much significance in this one, his willingness to dive on a guillotine has put him in bottom position which isn’t ideal but he’s good at forcing scrambles and often wins them.
His opponent, Rob Font, is a veteran of the bantamweight top 15. While he’s 1-3 in the promotion over the last three years, he’s fought some of the best talent the division has to offer. Font, 36, has a boxing heavy approach to his game. Everything offensively starts with the jab for Font. He works the strike with beautiful timing behind feints and firing it off at different angles which has led many to dub iit one of the best jabs in all of MMA.
Behind the jab he has a right hand that he throws with precision based on the openings and reactions his opponents give him. He seems to loop the right hand at times but it’s done intentionally when his opponent keeps their guard tight and in front of them to land flush instead of throwing a straight shot directly into their forearms. When he starts catching his opponent more and more and the guard begins to widen, he’ll come down the middle with an accurate straight right to the chin.
The way Font times these combos so well stems from the jab, but to get the jab going, he relies on feints and footwork to gauge distance and draw out reactions from his opponent defensively. He’s light on his feet (like you’d expect from a boxer) and is capable of moving in quickly to capitalize on these openings when his feints are successful. As he throws out the jab, it opens up his second set of feints where he’ll feint the follow up to get a read on wear his opponent is defending so when he does let the right hand go, he can throw it from the right angle.
In his most recent bout with Cory Sandhagen, we saw Rob Font get dominated in the wrestling department. Sandhagen found a ton of success in moving around the ring and staying far out of distance before timing Font’s attempted offense to shoot for single leg takedowns. These single legs were incredibly effective and something his opponent Figueiredo has shown to be proficient with. He was controlled for the better part of 25 minutes and round after round came out with no answers to the same puzzle. At 36 years old, Font will need to make incredible strides here if he wants to make it back into the title contention picture before he hangs up the gloves.
For Font, his game plan on the feet is obvious. He’s going to look to throw out some feints, jabs and teeps early on to gather reads and find his distance where he can land his combinations. He’ll need to limit them to one to two shots for the most part as he doesn’t want to get into a slugfest with Figueiredo. If he can keep Figueiredo on the back foot and draw out reactions with his feints, Font should be able to work his distance and take advantage of the lack of guard and head movement of Deiveson.
For Figueiredo, I would love to see him come out with leg kicks and stance switches to southpaw to blast more kicks to the inside of the leg as well as the body and head. The jab of Font should become less effective from this lefty stance but it’s unlikely Figueiredo will fight out of it the entire fight.
If he begins to find himself getting outmatched on the feet, he’s shown the same timing and takedown ability that Sandhagen was so successful with against Font and should target the single leg as Font comes in to throw his jab. With how badly Font defended this takedown in his last fight, it’ll be important for the former champion to test this area.
While Figueiredo was at the top of food chain at 125 lbs, the larger Bantamweights be able to match or even exceed his power on the feet. In his time in the UFC, Figueiredo has become reliant on this counter striking and he leaves himself open to be hit as he usually doesn’t have much respect for what’s coming back at him. While Font is far from the hardest hitting guy in the division, he still carries some good sting to his punches that was enough to get Yanez out of there in the first round.
There are some variables that will be hard to account for with Deiveson moving up in weight but I like Font’s chances if this one stays on the feet. I’m expecting some development in his ability to defend the single-leg takedown, so as long as he can stuff these attempts from the former flyweight, he’ll keep the fight standing where he can work his range and poke at Figueiredo until he sees his opening to attack.
Prediction: Rob Font to win (-145 on BetUS)