Coming off the heels of an underwhelming Fight Night card, we get to what I think is an underwhelming pay per view card. The pair of flyweight title fights would be more awe inspiring if one of the lines had not eclipsed -1800 at some books at the time of this writing, but this is something of a new normal for Valentina Shevchenko fights at flyweight. The remainder of the pay per view portion of this card is certainly not exciting, and in a bit of rare incompetence from the UFC, they have left the best fight on this card in Brandon Moreno vs Brandon Royval off of the pay per view portion, instead being the undercard main event.
I can’t envision a Paul Craig vs Shogun Rua rematch or a Katlyn Chookagian vs Cynthia Calvillo fight being a show stopper, so the pay per view portion will be fully reliant on the main event and the third last fight of the evening. The main event of course is the men’s lightweight title fight between Deiveson Figueirdo and Alex Perez. The third last fight of the evening does not bring any real implications in rankings or the top of the division, but it should be a fun banger between Tim Means and Mike Perry. Let’s dive into the fights.
Deiveson Figueiredo -305 vs Alex Perez.
Fight is five rounds at 125 lbs and is -485 to end inside the distance.
For the men’s flyweight championship.
This fight, unlike the co-main event, has at least some level of intrigue. While I believe the champion to be quite likely to find an early finish, there may be a path to victory for Perez. I’ll be brief on exploring the way these fighters match up, and will instead focus on what a game plan would like for Perez if he is to pull off the upset and take the title. If you aren’t familiar with Deiveson Figueiredo, he is an absolute beast that brings more strength and power than should really be possible at flyweight. He swings hammers and can put absolutely anyone out with one shot, and that should be a huge concern for Perez.
Perez is often willing to brawl and fight inside and that would spell a short night for him. While I do believe a first round knockout for Figueiredo is absolutely the most likely outcome, let’s explore the avenue Perez would have to take to begin sounding the upset alarm. First and foremost, he would have to stay on his bike and essentially not engage for about two full rounds. He truly needs to make it boring. He needs to try to frustrate Figueiredo and land some of his high end calf kicks to try to stifle the movement of the champ.
After draining some of the Figueiredo gas tank and fighting defensively for those opening rounds, that is when he will want to start shooting takedowns and putting his grappling game to work. The name of the game should not be seeking submissions, although one might come. He needs to be all about control and in this sense, control keeps him completely safe. He will not beat Figueiredo at his own game, so he needs to make it a completely deep water fight without much action. There are a lot of moving parts to make that happen, but it is not impossible. Even still, I cannot justify betting against Figueiredo, and also find it difficult to believe Perez would employ the game plan I laid out. Figueiredo will find a finish early on in this fight and the absolute best avenue of betting attack is Figueiredo ITD at -215.
Valentina Shevchenko -1520 vs Jennifer Maia
Fight is five rounds at 125 lbs and is -235 to end inside the distance.
For the women’s flyweight championship.
I’ll just be completely honest here, breaking down Valentina Shevchenko fights has become monotonous. She, at least equally with Amanda Nunes, is the one champion in the promotion that is simply head and shoulders above the competition in their weight class. This fight with Jennifer Maia is a poorly made one, but seemed to be the only option after Joanne Calderwood had a hiccup and lost her fight with Maia. There is simply not an area of advantage for Maia to press in this matchup, and she will be slowly picked apart and ultimately finished by Shevchenko. I’m not sure Maia will pose any threat at all in the striking, and she could make it a very slow paced fight, Shevchenko will simply shoot and dump her, get to half guard and rain down the ground and pound.
If we want to point to any area where Maia could find a miracle, it would be after Shevchenko dumped her and she found a miracle submission from her back. This fight may not have a wide enough betting line if we are talking percentages, as a hair over 15:1 implies just a 94% chance of victory for the favorite. I would deem the percentage figure to be over 99%, and this fight to be a runaway. As would be the next matchup with Lauren Murphy, as would be the next matchup with Cynthia Calvillo, if she is able to get past Chookagian. The only championship fight in this weight class that brings any intrigue at all is Jessica Andrade who moved up from strawweight, but the promotion may force her to get another win before a title shot. I don’t want to use the phrase “suffer through,” but that’s essentially what we will be doing with this fight that has a foregone conclusion. There is a silver lining for gamblers however, and that is with the Shevchenko ITD line, which sits at -175. That is an insane split form the flat line and it is absolutely a value spot. Shevchenko ITD at -175 is absolutely a sound play.
Mike Perry -150 vs Tim Means
Fight is at 170 lbs and is -175 to end inside the distance.
I have to admit, I, like most MMA fans today, find it quite easy to root against Mike Perry. Without putting any real commentary on his life outside the cage, let’s just say that he’s allegedly made very public mistakes. That said, I want to be quite objective on how he matches up with Tim Means in this fight. Perry, who at one time was considered a finisher, has not won a fight inside the distance since 2017 and is just 3-5 since that time. He still brings a complete skill set and still has some level of power, but he is certainly not a fighter that should have any championship aspirations. He may have a hard time finding his way inside against Tim Means, who will have four inch advantages in height and reach.
Means knows how to use that length and will have all the success in the world fighting on the outside in this matchup, but he will need to avoid brawling and put more focus on his defense and head movement than he has of late. Means has been finished in two of his last four fights and he certainly needs to avoid a bomb landing, as I’m not sure he has the durability to fight through it at this stage of his career. Perry will have an advantage in the wrestling, and will be able to take Means down if he can get to the proper range for entries, and Means will ideally use perpetual movement to keep those takedowns from landing. Wrestling may not even be an issue until Means does some cumulative damage, as Perry is not a fighter with an enviable fight IQ and prefers striking to grappling.
As a whole, I think Means lands a multitude of strikes early in this fight, and it will then be up to him to avoid the single power shot and additionally the takedowns that could cost him later rounds. WIth this being the case, I think Means should be a small favorite in this fight instead of Perry, and I think Means the somewhat more likely fighter to win. The value is completely on the Means side, and if we examine the betting lines of Perry, oddsmakers are essentially saying he needs a finish to win the fight, and I deem that a fair assessment. His flat line of -150 is backed up with and ITD line of -125, so there’s not much room for a decision win there. Given that this specific fighter hasn’t won via finish in eight fights, the opposite side of Means is absolutely the best play.
Brandon Moreno -190 vs Brandon Royval
Fight is at 125 lbs and is -105 to end inside the distance.
I mentioned in the intro this is the best fight on the entire card and I absolutely stand by it. Brandon Moreno absolutely had a case to be in the title fight over Alex Perez, and he probably had at least an equal case to that of Perez. Instead he gets a fight that is a de facto number one contender’s bout with the surging Brandon Royval. Moreno will have a number of advantages in this fight, and he is the more developed of the two fighters. Moreno was probably much more green than Royval at the current stage of Royval’s career, but he has made significant developments of late to round out his game.
Moreno was always a sound grappler, but his striking was lagging earlier in his career. That has been corrected, and he has the look of a true high end professional now, He will be the more technical striker and will have a much easier time landing in this matchup. Moreno will also have a fairly large advantage in the wrestling department and will be the one able to dictate when and how the fight hits the floor, if at all. When it comes to BJJ games, Moreno has less of an advantage, if any at all. Where he will have an advantage is landing in top position at the onset of exchanges on the floor. Royval on the other hand has had previous success with winning scrambles and finding sweeps against lesser BJJ players than Moreno, but that is unlikely to continue in this matchup. While Royval is quite capable of finding submissions off his back, I find it very difficult to think Moreno, who has never been finished, puts himself in that type of scenario. Where Royval could have some level of success is in brawling on the feet, as he will be at a technical disadvantage. While that style will have some level of chance of success, it is concerning for him because Moreno is one of few flyweights that can nearly match his length, and will likely be able to touch him often if he continuously and/or recklessly presses forward. At the end of the day, and as much of a fan as I am of Royval, I think the step up is just a little too much. He will likely need to land the right strike and immediately follow it up with a submission to have a true path to victory. This line is probably not quite wide enough, but it isn’t a screaming value either. If playing this fight, the Moreno side is the side to play, but it is not a necessity of a play.