By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Deiveson Figueiredo beat Brandon Moreno by unanimous decision at UFC 270 on Saturday night, concluding a thrilling fight trilogy by reclaiming the flyweight championship belt he lost to Moreno seven months ago.
Figueiredo (21-2-1) won the bout 48-47 on all three judges’ scorecards after a frenetic, physical addition to a rivalry that has featured 13 rounds of outstanding action over the last 13 months. The trilogy began with a majority draw in December 2020 and continued with Moreno’s third-round stoppage victory last June in Arizona.
Figueiredo and Moreno (19-6-2) traded big shots throughout the third bout, but the Brazilian winner rode a strong start to his first victory since November 2020.
Moreno won plenty of exchanges, and he had the ferocious backing of a Southern California crowd featuring plenty of fans who drove 110 miles from his native Tijuana to watch the UFC’s first Mexican-born champion.
The judges gave it to Figueiredo by a narrow margin — but he doesn’t think this rivalry is finished.
“I’m ready for a fourth fight against Brandon in Mexico,” Figueiredo said.
Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou faced Ciryl Gane in the main event of the UFC’s first pay-per-view event of 2022.
With a fiery red stripe painted into his bleached-blond hair, Figueiredo came out with a strong first round at Honda Center, hurting the champ both with kicks and quick hands. They had several thrilling standup exchanges in the third round, each getting hurt and recovering — and Figueiredo sent Moreno crashing to the canvas with a right hand to the temple with about 8 seconds left in the round.
Moreno’s striking picked up in the fourth, and he landed a dramatic upper-body takedown 30 seconds into the fifth. Both fighters went out swinging in a brutal fifth round that concluded with 30 seconds of heedless swinging and slinging.
Moreno’s fans repeatedly chanted “Sí se puede!” and roared for anything the champion did in Orange County, an area with deep MMA roots. Moreno was backed both by the Los Angeles area’s huge Mexican-American population and plenty of traveling fans.
Moreno won his title last summer in the most decisive bout of the trilogy. He became a national hero in Mexico with his breakthrough victory in the rapidly growing sport, earning a meeting with the President.
Figueiredo, the Brazilian veteran who fought four times in 2020 while claiming his title, responded to his second career defeat by training with former two-division UFC champ Henry Cejudo and refocusing his game plan to handle Moreno’s style.
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