UFC Abu Dhabi: Figueiredo, Benavidez lock horns for flyweight title
Joseph Benavidez (right) punches Dustin Ortiz during their flyweight bout at UFC Fight Night in New York. (AFP)
Abu Dhabi - Figueiredo, on a sensational 18-1 record, is confident that he can right the wrong after the February 29 title match
The action returns to the UFC Fight Island with the flyweight title on the line in Abu Dhabi. No. 1 Deiveson Figueiredo and No. 2 Joseph Benavidez will headline the main card event at the Flash Forum. This is a rematch of the controversial February bout that Figueiredo won, but couldn't take the belt as he had missed weights.
And in the co-main event, middleweight No. 6 Jack 'The Joker' Hermansson will take on seventh-ranked challenger Kelvin Gastelum.
The flyweight championship will see a new king following the retirement of Henry Cejudo.
Figueiredo, on a sensational 18-1 record, is confident that he can right the wrong after the February 29 title match.
"My game plan remains the same. I am going to hunt him down, and try to knock him out but I am sure he is going to try to take me down, so I am going to submit him," he said.
The 32-year-old fighter stressed that it was Benavidez who head butted him in the last fight - an act that generated lots of controversy before resulting in this rematch.
"He had butted me. It was his attack. I was able to fight through it. He was the one who got the cut and then got knocked out. I will beat him again. I have trained to submit him but he is a guy who can be easily knocked out," he said.
Figueiredo acknowledged that he was under pressure to win a belt as no Brazilian had returned with a belt from Fight Island.
"There's pressure. I came here to win. I am going to take the belt. I have beaten him once. I will take the belt home," he added.
Meanwhile, Benavidez is focused on ending his 15-year chase for the title. At 35 years of age, this is likely to be his last title attempt. The February head butt incident still hurts him.
"Imagine working for something for 15 years. Almost having it and then being taken away from you. It's sad to lose a fight but that one was devastating," he said.
"In the first round, I was on every judges' scorecard and I thought everything was going my way and then the head butt happened. It rocked me. The referee didn't catch it. A perfect opportunity was squandered. But I haven't let that stop me. Now I am going to do what I should have done last time."
A confident Benavidez said he could finish Figueiredo within three rounds.
"The longer the fight goes, he will be the one who gets finished. I believe I am the best in the world and looking forward to proving it," he added.
In the co-main event, Hermansson is eager to thump Gastelum and stake a claim for top 5.
"Kelvin is right next to me in the rankings. So with a win, I don't see why I wouldn't get a fight against someone in the top 5," he said.
But Gastelum promises to punish Hermansson.
"He is very dangerous and has tools that make him tough. I hope he brings his best and he's as hungry as I am. Regardless, I'm going to put on a clinic," he said.
There are three more fights in the main card and seven preliminary bouts starting from 1 am on Sunday.