LAS VEGAS — Appearances, as Alex Perez found out on Saturday in his flyweight title fight against Deiveson Figueiredo in the main event of UFC 255 at Apex, are often deceiving.
Perez had caught Figueiredo’s left leg while they were fighting near the side of the cage, and eventually got the champion to the ground. Perez, who came out aggressively, followed Figueiredo to the ground.
It may have seemed that he was in a good position. Instead, his title dreams were about to be dashed.
As soon as Perez got within reach, Figueiredo reached up and grabbed his neck in a guillotine choke. He squeezed for all he was worth and Perez tapped at 1:57, making Figueiredo’s first title defense a successful one.
Figueiredo had to beat the great Joseph Benavidez not once, but twice, in order to become the champion. The first time out, he missed weight and then there was controversy about the finish.
On Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, they rematched and Figueiredo finished Benavidez to claim the title.
An old saw is that the most difficult title defense is always the first one, but Figueiredo laid that to rest on Saturday.
He looked strong and confident and in command as he finished a very good opponent in under two minutes. He’s coming into his own at an opportune time, as he said he’s finally earned enough money to allow himself to hire the coaches and conduct the kind of training camp he needs to in order to win at the highest level.
Perez entered the bout confident and attacked early, and it looked like the title fight could turn into a fast-paced classic.
But Figueiredo took advantage of the first opportunity he got, slipping that arm around Perez’s neck, and worked quickly for the finish.
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