(All stats according to UFC’s Record Book and Fight Metric as of December 9, 2020, and only include active athletes in their respective division unless noted otherwise)
Main Event: Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno
Key Stats: 3.02 submissions per 15 minutes (1st all-time among FLW), 55.8% significant strike accuracy (2nd all-time among FLW), 1.34 knockdowns per 15 minutes (2nd all-time among FLW)
What It Means: Figueiredo is as devastating a finisher as any the flyweight division has seen. The precision and power of his strikes is stunning, needing little wind up or real loading in order to shake his opponent. If the fight hits the ground, Figueiredo wastes little time finding an opportunity to lock in a submission, showing a great squeeze on chokes. On the feet, he more or less stalks his opponent with footwork and keeps range well before unloading straight and tight combinations. He has a wiry frame for the division and has some deceptive strength as well, which helps him in close quarters.
Key Stats: 3.01 strikes landed per minute (8th), 63.6% significant strike defense (3rd), 12:56 average fight time (2nd longest)
What It Means: “The Assassin Baby” showed great improvements in his striking since returning to the UFC and shows such confidence when exchanging, particularly when he strings together his punches. He keeps his frame loose and fast, and he darts in and out of range with good awareness of where he is in the Octagon. His best skill set still resides on the ground, though. He is a slick grappler who uses his long limbs to find submissions and maintain control. Moreno isn’t one to shy away from a firefight, and his durability and cardio makes him dangerous for an entire fight.
What to Look For in the Fight: Figueiredo’s 2020 campaign has built a bit of an aura of invincibility as he has taken ahold of the flyweight crown. His two finishes over Joseph Benavidez and recent submission of Alex Perez haven’t featured much adversity for the champion, but Moreno does have the kind of well-rounded skill set to make life tricky for him. Both fighters are adept at fighting at their range and keeping things long, but when the fight moves in tight, their grappling ability shines through. They’re both aggressive when looking for submissions, so if the fight does hit the canvas, something could get wrapped up swiftly. On the feet, Figueiredo has the likely power advantage, but Moreno can take a good shot, and his smooth striking can have a bit of a swarming impact on his opponent.
Co-Main Event: Tony Ferguson vs Charles Oliveira
Key Stats: +1.75 striking differential (5th), 5.81 strikes landed per minute (5th), 6 submission wins (5th)
What It Means: Few, if any, mixed martial artists move and operate the way “El Cucuy” does. He is the embodiment of forward pressure regardless of whether he is taking hits or giving them. The constant forward motion often wilts his opponents, who can only keep his pace for so long, and he capitalizes on their slowing down with wide array of strikes. His elbows are particularly damaging, and at range, his front kicks and spinning attacks give opponents plenty to think about.
Key Stats: 14 submission wins (1st all-time), 16 finishes (tied 1st all-time), 50.9% significant strike accuracy (8th)
What It Means: While “Do Bronx” is the most prolific submission artist in UFC history, Oliveira has shown great improvement in his striking as he has run up the lightweight rankings. He has a good, long frame for the division and smoothly moves around the Octagon, keeping things at a striking range with which he is comfortable. On the ground, though, Oliveira is as complete a jiu-jitsu player as they come, dangerous in control and off his back. Engaging in a grappling scramble with Oliveira is as inadvisable as any strategy in the Octagon, and if foes slip in concentration for a moment, he’ll quickly remind them of that fact.
What to Look For in the Fight: Wherever this fight goes, it should be entertaining. Ferguson has made a career on being a puzzle of movement and danger with a penchant for breaking down his opponents with an insane pace and pressure. Oliveira, on the other hand, can wrap up a submission in a blink and strikes with the confidence of a man who knows he can end a fight the second he finds a free limb or the opponent’s neck. How he responds to Ferguson’s pressure and quirky style is his toughest test to date, and for Ferguson, he’ll want to make a clear statement after falling to Justin Gaethje in May.
Other Fights to Watch (Ronaldo Souza vs Kevin Holland, Junior Dos Santos vs Ciryl Gane)
Key Stats: 0.95 submissions per 15 minutes (7th), 52.8% significant strike accuracy (5th), 28.3% control time percentage (7th)
What It Means: “Jacare” is the classic example of a grappling ace whose confidence in their ground game allows them to strike with abandon. He has pretty slick boxing and favors looping hooks and uppercuts that most would avoid in fear of overextending themselves and going to the ground, but that’s where Souza shines. He is strong with mixing his wrestling with his striking and sucking his opponent to the ground. When it gets there, he is constricting with his control and his grip, finding his way to submissions with methodical ease.
Key Stats: 59.9% significant strike accuracy (1st all-time among MW), +1.55 striking differential (6th), 0.93 submissions per 15 minutes (8th)
What It Means: Holland takes great advantage of his frame (6-foot-3, 81-inch reach) when the fight is on the feet, keeping strikes long and smooth. Rarely does he put himself out of position, and he has improved at keeping himself at a comfortable range to piece up opponents. He is well-rounded, showing solid defensive and offensive grappling, and he can utilize his long limbs to be dangerous on top and off his back.
MORE UFC 256: Inside The Octagon | Fighters On The Rise | Oliveira vs Lee Free Fight | Ferguson vs Barboza Free Fight | Renato Moicano | The Rise Of Brandon Moreno | Junior Dos Santos | Fight By Fight Preview | Daniel Pineda | Ciryl Gane
What to Look For in the Fight: How Holland approaches this fight will be interesting. He has looked particularly sharp when he keeps fights at a long range where he can pick his shots, string together combinations and utilize his length. Souza is particularly strong on the inside and in the clinch, so how he uses that leverage to his advantage will be something to watch as well.
Ciryl Gane: Anyone, Anywhere
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Ciryl Gane: Anyone, Anywhere
Junior Dos Santos
Key Stats: 81.8% takedown defense (2nd all-time among HW), 4.59 strikes landed per minute (6th), 14 knockdowns landed (1st)
What It Means: “Cigano” is one of the smoothest moving strikers in the heavyweight division, particularly with his boxing. He can string together powerful flurries, and he has a particularly devastating uppercut in his arsenal. He will also throw a variety of spinning and front kicks to keep range and disrupt his opponent’s rhythm.
Key Stats: 5.12 strikes landed per minute, 73% striking defense, 1.32 takedowns per 15 minutes
What It Means: Gane is a hulking figure who moves well for his size, and his grappling ability at times catches opponents off-guard. Although his striking is polished and powerful, his ground game has shown to be just as dangerous, as two of his three UFC wins have come by submission. He is fast, and he is able to pressure opponents in a swarming manner when he has them hurt.
What to Look For in the Fight: JDS is Gane’s highest-profile and most experienced opponent to date, so it is a good test to see where the Frenchman’s level is at as a new wave of heavyweight contenders emerge. Dos Santos is still a dangerous, fast and diverse striker, and his experience only adds to the difficulty for Gane. The fight projects to be a striking battle, but both fighters have had success in the clinch along the fence as well.