By Nick Stavas & William Burke
The UFC’s November PPV is upon us. While the lineup isn’t necessarily pleasing to the eye on paper, there are undoubtedly some hidden gems that should prove to make up an entertaining night of fights from the Apex Center in Las Vegas. Two flyweight titles are on the line in the main and co-main events, while rankings movement is up for grabs all the way up and down the card. We picked out our favorite fights and analyzed them, offering up our best bets as we get you ready for UFC 255.
Main Card (10 P.M. ET on ESPN+ PPV)
– (C) Deiveson Figueiredo (-310) vs. #4 Alex Perez (+240) – Flyweight Championship
– (C) Valentina Shevchenko (-1400) vs. #3 Jennifer Maia (+750) – W. Flyweight Championship
– Mike Perry (-150) vs. Tim Means (+120) – Middleweight Bout
– #2 Katlyn Chookagian (+200) vs. #4 Cynthia Calvillo (-250) – W. Flyweight Bout
– #14 Shogun Rua (+145) vs. #15 Paul Craig (-175) – Light Heavyweight Bout
Prelims (6:30 P.M. ET on ESPN2)
– #2 Brandon Moreno (-190) vs. #6 Brandon Royval (+155) – Flyweight Bout
– Joaquin Buckley (-270) vs. Jordan Wright (+210) – Middleweight Bout
– #15 Antonina Shevchenko (-165) vs. Ariane Lipski (+135) – W. Flyweight Bout
– Daniel Rodriguez (-310) vs. Nicolas Dalby (+240) – Welterweight Bout
– Alan Jouban (-145) vs. Jared Gooden (+115) – Welterweight Bout
– Kyle Daukaus (-305) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (+235) – Middleweight Bout
– Louis Cosce (-400) vs. Sasha Palatnikov (+300) – Welterweight Bout
Deiveson Figueiredo (-310) vs. Alex Perez (+240)
You’re probably wondering why two flyweight fights are headlining a PPV, and I am too, trust me. Originally this bout was supposed to be Cody Garbrandt’s flyweight debut, which would have been a much bigger draw. After that fell through, Dana White had to look elsewhere.
The debate on whether or not the UFC should even keep the flyweight division is never-ending and there will always be people who dispute its existence. However, it seems as if Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) is here to save the day for the 125-pounders, because he is must-see TV.
Since losing to Jussier Formiga in July of 2019, Figueiredo has been on an absolute rampage through the flyweight division. He’s on a four-fight winning streak, including victories over Alexandre Pantoja, Tim Elliot and Joseph Benavidez twice. The first time he fought Benavidez for the title early this year, Figueiredo failed to make weight and was ineligible to actually win the belt.
Regardless, Figueiredo starched him.
Five months later, the rematch was made and Figueiredo actually hit the 125 mark to qualify himself for the title. Lo and behold, Figueiredo starched Benavidez… again… three different times.
In terms of title fights in particular, Figueiredo’s second crack at Benavidez was quite possibly the most dominant 4 minutes and 48 seconds I’ve ever seen. Figueiredo dropped him three times in the first four minutes, essentially just got tired of trying to knock him out, so he jumped on him and choked him unconscious. Pretty crazy stuff. I implore you to go watch that fight here.
Figueiredo officially proved that night that he is far and away the best flyweight in the world, but he will have his hands full against Alex Perez (24-5) on Saturday night. Perez is an elite grappler with master class wrestling and jiu-jitsu skills. A submission artist by trade, Perez has shored up his striking game to allow him to compete with the best fighters in the world. He put that on full display back in June when he recorded just the ninth TKO via leg kicks in UFC history against Formiga. Perez has put together a nice little win streak of his own, with his last three fights being triumphs over Formiga, Jordan Espinosa and Mark De La Rosa.
While Perez is good, Figueiredo is just better. It’s as simple as that. He’s a better boxer, striker, and possibly even better on the ground, even though that is Perez’s strong suit. Unfortunately, Vegas caught on to this quickly, so the odds are quite juicy on just about everything that indicates a Figueiredo victory. I think because Perez is more savvy on the ground than he is on the feet, Figueiredo is going to try to keep this one standing up and simply out-strike him. If he does that, it should be an easy victory.
Benavidez is thought to have some of the best hands in the history of the UFC, and we saw how quickly Figueiredo disposed of him on two separate occasions. If Figueiredo manages to keep this fight a stand-and-bang battle, it won’t last long.
Best Bet: Figueiredo by KO/TKO (-120)
Value Bet: Under 1.5 rounds (+145)
– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)
Mike Perry (-150) vs. Tim Means (+120)
If you’ve heard of Mike Perry (14-6) it’s quite possible it’s from what he’s done outside the Octagon versus inside it. He’s made headlines this past year for his behavior outside the cage, most notably getting into a bar fight and offering to let the highest bidder corner him in this upcoming fight. The second part of that won’t come to fruition, as it will just be his girlfriend in his corner once again. He meets UFC vet Tim Means (30-12) this Saturday in what has the makings of being a standup brawl.
In his last fight, Perry simply looked clinical in the dismantling of Mickey Gall. It was clear he didn’t respect his power on the feet and simply walked him down for three rounds landing just about whatever he wanted. That will not be the case with Means. He has a significant height and reach advantage on Perry, and also packs power that Perry will be forced to respect.
For Means, he’s coming off of a decision win in August and is 3-2 in his past five. He’s really looking to start stringing together victories to get his name mentioned near the rankings. Look for him to try and work off of his jab, and keep Perry at a distance in this fight. You’ll likely hear the term “stick and move” from the commentators because it will serve Means best to land and relocate soon after. Perry has legit power, and if he lands on Means this could be a quick fight.
The bottom line for this fight is going to be distance management. I’m not counting on Means being able to keep Perry from working his way inside and landing some of his patented heavy shots. I like Perry to finish this fight, so I’ll take Perry moneyline and Perry by TKO/KO at better odds.
Best bet: Perry moneyline (-150)
Value bet: Perry by TKO/KO (+170)
–William Burke (@w_burke22)
Katlyn Chookagian (+200) vs Cynthia Calvillo (-250)
I’ll be honest, when I saw the odds for this fight I was very surprised. Katlyn Chookagian (14-4) is an extremely tough opponent for Cynthia Calvillo (9-1), and without a doubt the toughest challenge she’s faced to date. So for Calvillo to be a -250 favorite caught my eye a bit. I feel like people are down on Katlyn because of her last contest vs Jessica Andrade just a few weeks ago in October. She lost that fight via TKO, but it wasn’t a typical TKO. She got hit with a body shot in the perfect location from Andrade which just caused her to shut down and get finished. She didn’t take much damage in the fight, so she should be coming into this relatively fresh.
The biggest factor in this fight for me is the height and reach. Katlyn sports a 5” height and reach advantage. That’s massive when Calvillo will most likely be looking to get in tight and try and take the fight to the mat. Make no mistake about it, Calvillo is a good striker, but she doesn’t want to get in a striking match against Chookagian. Her clear advantage is on the ground and with her submission game.
When picking this fight, it all comes down to where it takes place. If Calvillo is able to drag Katlyn to the mat and look for submissions or keep control, she’ll be in a great position to win. But, if Katlyn is able to stuff a few takedowns and keep it standing, I think she strikes her way to a likely decision win. This one is gonna be close. I could easily see a split decision, but in the end I’m going with Katlyn and those surprisingly great odds.
Best bet: Chookagian moneyline (+200)
-William Burke (@w_burke22)
Brandon Moreno (-190) vs. Brandon Royval (+155)
It’s hard to find two fighters more similar than the two guys in this prelim headliner. They share the same styles, they’re close to the same age, they even have the same name. I’m not entirely sure why this fight isn’t on the main card because it truly is the best bout of the night.
Brandon Moreno (17-5-1) has had one of the strangest careers of anyone in the UFC. An Ultimate Fighter alumnus, Moreno started off his career with three straight wins, figuring to be one of the promotion’s most promising young prospects. After suffering consecutive losses to Sergio Pettis and Alexandre Pantoja, Moreno just up and left the UFC. Following an entire year’s break from fighting, he took a bout with LFA against Mikael Perez and won by knockout. He then returned to the UFC and is 2-0-1 since, including a draw with Askar Askarov and wins over Jussier Formiga and Kai Kara-France. Moreno is a world class submission who is dangerous from any position on the ground. Early in his career, he struggled on the feet and often lost fights because of it, but since his return to the UFC he seems to have improved exponentially in that regard.
Moreno will need to be as sharp as he’s ever been Saturday night against Brandon Royval (12-4). Royval impressed every MMA fan when he submitted Kai-Kara France as a considerable underdog in September. Prior to that, he choked out Tim Elliot on a short notice fight in his UFC debut. Royval is one of the most exciting fighters on the roster, with an unconventional style, oftentimes jumping in with reckless abandon to try to get the finish.
These two flyweights have incredibly similar fighting styles, which makes this a very tough fight to dissect. On paper, they are dead even in the grappling department, but the striking edge clearly lies with Royval. He’s more powerful, holds a higher guard and mixes in beautiful punch/Mauy-Thai combos.
If this fight hits the ground, it’s a toss up. Each fighter possesses the ability to lock in submissions and finish the fight with a tap out. Given the fact that they probably know this about each other, I would venture to guess this one stays on the feet for most of the contest. If that inkling turns out to be true, I’ll take Royval.
Best Bet: Royval moneyline (+155)
– Nick Stavas (@nickstavas)