Moreno, Figueiredo extend rivalry at UFC 283

Moreno, Figueiredo extend rivalry at UFC 283

(AP) — Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo have fought 12 1/2 thrilling rounds in three fights over the past 25 months. When they meet for the fourth time on Saturday night, the winner will have the UFC flyweight title and the final say in one of the greatest rivalries in recent martial arts history.

Moreno knows exactly what he’s getting himself into when the cage door closes in Rio de Janeiro, and he’s extremely confident he can reclaim the belt he won in the second bout and lost in the third.

It’s walking to the cage in front of the notoriously insane Brazilian MMA fans that has this likeable Tijuana native both worried and excited.

“I can imagine that,” Moreno said with a grin. “Maybe start the fight or go to the octagon, maybe people will be a bit aggressive with us – me especially. But as the rounds progress, people will see all my hard work, and people will understand that I’m just a little kid trying to put food on the table for my family.”

Since its inception in 2012, only four men have held the UFC’s 125-pound title, and two of those will fight for that title again at UFC 283. It is the first title tetralogy in the promotion’s history, and Moreno anticipates a grand finale.

“It’s the last dance, man,” Moreno said. “My plan is to make a statement in that one. My plan is to finish Deiveson Figueiredo. I know it. I’ve done it before I can do it again. Do you understand that when the rumor started, people were like, “Oh man, those guys again?” I understand your point, but I also understand that Deiveson and I are making fireworks in the ring. I don’t want to see that guy again.”

The UFC’s first pay-per-view show of 2023 is also the promotion’s first show in Brazil since its infamous fight night in an empty arena in Brasilia on March 14, 2020, the last event before almost all sports were postponed of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the main event, 43-year-old Brazilian ex-champ Glover Teixeira takes on Jamahal Hill in a matchup for the vacant light heavyweight belt. Every fight on the main card features a Brazilian, including welterweight Gilbert Burns, flyweight Jessica Andrade and light heavyweight Johnny Walker.

The undercard is led by former Brazilian light heavyweight champion Maurício “Shogun” Rua, who claims he will retire after that fight with Ihor Potieria.

But the most compelling matchup on the map is the one with the longest history. Moreno and Figueiredo both realize that after three fights they have little chance of surprising each other, so the winner has to play to their strengths.

“He’s the same guy with a lot of power in his right hand trying to be a bully,” Moreno said. “Brandon Moreno is the same guy with the amazing cardio, with the speed, with the volume of the punches. I don’t think we can change that.”

Their first three fights were consistently exciting, but ultimately decided nothing. After battling for an exciting draw with the majority in Las Vegas in December 2020, Moreno finished Figueiredo with a rear naked choke in the rematch before Figueiredo won a third fight decision in Anaheim last January.

Figueiredo injured both hands in that win, and the UFC teased him by awarding him an interim flyweight title belt during his recovery. Moreno won that temporary strap, stopping Kai Kara-France last summer.

Moreno’s training for the fourth fight was put on hold last month when his new trainer, James Krause, was banned from coaching fighters for UFC competitions due to an investigation into a suspicious result in a fight involving another of Krause’s students in November.

Moreno continued his training camp with the rest of his team in Las Vegas, and he emerged poised to continue this remarkable rivalry in front of the most hostile crowd he’s ever faced. It’s a thrill for a competitor like Moreno.

“I try not to think about it too much, but it’s a lot of pressure,” Moreno said. “It’s for the belt. It’s in another country. I’m just ready to go. It will be fun.”

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