The UFC held its final pay-per-view event of 2020, turning an injury plagued nightmare into one the promotion's most entertaining fight cards of the year.
Three title fights were planned for UFC 256, but three title fights fell off the card. Men's flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo, just three weeks removed from his first title defense, saved the day by facing No. 1 contender Brandon Moreno in the UFC 256 headliner.
Moreno also last fought on the UFC 255 fight card three weeks, the same as Figueiredo. Regardless, they delivered in the main event, putting on a tremendous display of heart and skill.
UFC 256 result: Deiveson Figueiredo keeps belt after draw with Brandon Moreno
From the opening bell, Figueiredo walked Moreno down. It didn’t matter that Moreno was slinging a sharp jab and firing the whole time. Figueiredo simply walked through most of it and picked his shots, landing with incredible power, though Moreno never backed down either.
While Moreno landed a head kick and follow-up right hand, they didn’t appear to faze Figueiredo much. Not seeming to have much respect for Moreno’s power, Figueiredo kept pressing forward and landing power shots.
The tide shifted a bit in the second round. Figueiredo continued walking forward, but Moreno started landing with better timing, putting Figueiredo out of his game. Though Figueiredo also landed with several shots, Moreno ate them and kept fighting, possibly winning the round by simply outworking Figueiredo.
Whatever momentum Moreno built in the second round only continued in rounds three and four. Though the rounds were fairly even, Moreno was slightly outworking Figueiredo. Figueiredo also lost a point for a low blow in round three.
Moreno added a couple takedowns to his achievements in round four, as well as edging ahead of Figueiredo not only on the number of strikes he was throwing, but the effectiveness of those strikes, as he rocked Figueiredo on at least a couple of occasions.
The action slowed considerably in the final round. While Moreno held the center of the Octagon, he stopped engaging like he had in rounds two through four.
He seemed to be favoring his left arm, the announcers noticing as well, wondering if one of the kicks Moreno blocked had damaged his arm.
Figueiredo either didn’t pick up on Moreno being compromised or perhaps didn’t have the gas left in the tank to take advantage because he didn’t fight with the verve he had in earlier rounds.
When the judges scores were announced, with the one point deduction to Figueiredo for the round-three kick to the groin, they determined it was a majority draw.
One judge saw it 47-46 in Figueiredo’s favor, while the other two scored it 47-47. Figueiredo kept his belt.
After the fight, Moreno acknowledged that he felt something pop in his left shoulder during the fight, which was hampering him in round five. He didn’t take anything away from Figueiredo, however, saying that he didn’t feel he had done enough to win the fight outright.
“I feel so happy. I wanted the belt, but it is what it is,” said Moreno.
Incredibly, Figueiredo admitted in his post-fight interview that he had fought some sort of illness overnight heading into Saturday’s bout.
“I felt like a champion every single round, (but) something happened to me yesterday, I had an infection in my stomach. I was in the hospital until 2 a.m.,” said Figueiredo, who is open to a rematch.
“If they want to put him in front of me the next fight, I will fight him again.”
UFC 256 result: Charles Oliveira comes into his own, dominates Tony Ferguson
Charles Oliveira fought an impeccable fight against Tony Ferguson in the UFC 256 co-main event. Never before has anyone, even Justin Gaethje, dominate Ferguson the way Oliveira did.
The first round was perhaps the most incredible round of Oliveira’s career.
He outstruck Ferguson with punches and kicks. He clinched Ferguson and then tossed him to the canvas. Once on the ground, Oliveira worked into full mount, smothering Ferguson and dropping elbows across his face. He slipped off for an armbar that was deep and hyperextended Ferguson's arm as the round closed.
Incredibly, Ferguson fought on, but Oliveira quickly took him to the ground again in the second frame. Ferguson used an elbow to open a cut over Oliveira’s left eye on the way down, but then caught him with an illegal upkick.
Following a brief break for Oliveira to recover, the ref restarted the fight on the ground, where Oliveira smothered Ferguson for the remainder of the round, landing punches and knees throughout.
Oliveira only got better as the fight wore on. He again chopped Ferguson's legs in the third round before catching a kick and driving Ferguson into the fence, quickly returning him to the canvas.
On the ground, Oliveira’s positioning was perfect. Though Ferguson kept scrambling, trying to find a way out, Oliveira continued smothering him, moving to the next position before Ferguson could even get there.
Ferguson slid out the back door and over the top, attacking Oliveira, but Oliveira simply slammed him back to the mat, smothering, kneeing, and punching en route to a lopsided 30-26 decision on all three scorecards.
It appeared like Ferguson should have tapped from the armbar at the end of round one, but he toughed it out the remainder of the fight, giving everything he had. Oliveira wasn’t surprised.
“He’s a champion. I knew he wasn’t going to tap out. I came here to make history. You tell me, who has dominated him like that?” Oliveira said after the fight.
Now he takes aim at the very top of the UFC lightweight division, his eyes focused on the belt that is currently in Khabib Nurmagomedov’s possession, though the champion says he is retired. That doesn’t matter to Oliveira… he’s coming for the belt whoever has it.
“The boss already said whoever won this fight would be in a great position to fight for the belt. With Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier fighting in January, I’m going to be watching.”
UFC 256 result: Mackenzie Dern outstrikes fellow world class grappler Virna Jandiroba
Despite being two of the better grapplers in the world, the fight between strawweights Mackenzie Dern and Virna Jandiroba was fought primarily on the feet.
Entering mixed martial arts almost solely as a grappler, Dern has continued to work hard on her stand-up and it showed at UFC 256. From the opening bell, Dern stormed across the cage, pressuring Jandiroba with a solid jab and following with punch combinations.
Though Dern was the aggressor throughout, Jandiroba wasn’t as precise, but fended off Dern’s occasional takedown attempts, doing well with knees to the body in the clinch. Toward the end of the second frame, Jandiroba drove a knee into Dern’s nose, which split her open and quite possibly broke her nose.
Dern kept powering forward in the final frame, despite the damage to her nose. She sharpened her jab in the third, while also landing several hard kicks to the midsection. Jandiroba kept firing back, but was simply outworked by Dern’s ever-improving striking.
The judges saw it the same way, awarding Dern the unanimous decision victory.
UFC 256 result: Kevin Holland brutally knocks out Jacare Souza
Kevin Holland is one of the fighters that has most brutally stormed out of the pandemic imposed lockdown in the spring to thrive in 2020.
He took the most important step forward in his career on Saturday with a brutal knockout of former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
Jacare immediately scored a takedown as the fight began, but Holland gave no quarter on the ground, attacking off his back and returning the fight to the feet. Jacare held his grip around Holland and kept working until he got the fight back to the canvas. That only proved to be his downfall.
Holland fought off his back and when Jacare sat up on his knees inside of guard, Holland cracked him with a right hand across the forehead.
Jacare swayed back. Holland began to stand, again blasting Jacare with a punch as he was regaining his feet. Once standing, Holland landed three more hard punches to the face before the referee could step in and stop the fight at 1:45 of the first round.
After the bout, Holland called out Khamzat Chimaev. The craziest part of his callout wasn’t the opponent, however, it was that he wants to fight Chimaev next week at UFC Vegas 17, the promotion’s final event of 2020.
UFC 256 result: Cyril Gane dismantles Junior Dos Santos
Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos suffered his fourth consecutive defeat on Saturday, as Frenchman Cyril Gane continued his rise up the ranks.
From the opening bell, Dos Santos went head hunting, while Gane stayed fluid, moving with ease, immediately chopping away at Dos Santos with precision kicks.
As the fight wore on, Gane ramped up his attacks, ripping kicks to Dos Santos’s lead leg and midsection. Just before the midway point of round two, Gane hurt Dos Santos badly with a brutal jab followed by a hard right elbow across the temple.
Realizing Dos Santos was staggered, Gane caught him with another elbow to the side of the head, sending the former champion to all fours on the canvas. Gane followed with a couple left hands to the face before the referee stopped the fight at 2:34 of round two.
Gane improved his overall record to 7-0. A win over the likes of JDS will surely boost his stock in the heavyweight division. Dos Santos, 37, drops to 21-9, and might need to start considering his future in the Octagon, as his best days as a fighter are likely in the rearview mirror.
UFC 256: Figueiredo vs. Moreno results
UFC 256 Main Card (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV)
- Main Event: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs. Brandon Moreno was a majority draw (47-46, 47-47, 47-47) — Figueiredo keeps the belt
- Co-Main Event: Charles Oliveira def. Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
- Mackenzie Dern def. Virna Jandiroba by unanimous decision (29-28 29-28, 29-28)
- Kevin Holland def. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza by KO (punches) at 1:45, R1
- Ciryl Gane def. Junior dos Santos by TKO (elbows and punches) at 2:34, R2
UFC 256 Preliminary Card (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
- Cub Swanson def. Daniel Pineda by KO (punches) at 1:52, R2
- Rafael Fiziev def. Renato Moicano by KO (punches) 4:05, R1
- Gavin Tucker def. Billy Quarantillo by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Tecia Torres def. Sam Hughes by TKO (doctor’s stoppage) at 5:00, R1
- Chase Hooper def. Peter Barrett by submission (heel hook) at 3:02, R3