After Brandon Moreno’s incredible submission win against Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 263, many questions loom about what is next for Brandon Moreno as he anticipates his next opponent for his title defense. The Flyweight division has already dealt with its fair share of drama much differently than the rest of the UFC. At one point, Dana White almost considered cutting the division entirely because of the lack of talent coming through the rankings after Demetrious Johnson left the UFC. Thankfully, Henry Cejudo saved the division by bringing his loud mouth attitude and flashy knockouts.
Brandon Moreno has plenty of options in front of him for who he could fight next, and a lot of them make sense as well. However, two realistic options make the most sense right now. The first one being Askar Askarov. After going to a draw with Moreno in his UFC Debut, Askarov has been unbeaten in his following three fights. In fact, he hasn’t been beaten at all other than the draw in 2019. Askarov is coming off of a dominant win against Joseph Benavidez at UFC 259. He’s also had big wins against Alexandre Pantoja and Tim Elliot. He easily sets himself up for his first title shot in the UFC.
Another realistic opportunity is a trilogy with Deiveson Figueiredo. A lot of things went wrong for Figueiredo that he should have focused more on. These issues likely stemmed from his tough weight cut. Figueiredo finally came for his weigh-in about a minute before the deadline. This tough cut affected his performance from the start. Figueiredo was much less aggressive and commanding. It was obvious the weight cut affected his energy, which led to his defeat in the third round. But Figueiredo did technically defend his title back in December at UFC 256, just not in the most ideal way possible. This poses the clause for a trilogy in the future, and after the first two fights gaining as much attention, it is not a bad move for the promotion either.
However, there is the idea that Figueiredo may move up and compete at 135 pounds because of his tough weight cut. There are pros and cons to this proposal that affect Figueiredo and their respective divisions.
A major pro for Figueiredo is that he would reduce the amount of weight he is forced to cut, which will effectively enhance his performance. However, Figueiredo’s departure in the Flyweight division would remove a big-time contender in a division that already lacks talent. His addition to the Bantamweight division also gives them another top contender in an already stacked division, especially towards the top. Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling still need to have their rematch, which likely won’t happen until the fall after Sterling’s neck surgery. There’s also TJ Dillashaw’s return against Cory Sandhagen in July. Rob Font just came off a huge win against Cody Garbrandt. Jose Aldo is also scheduled to fight Pedro Munhoz in August. The only possible fight that would make sense is against Cody Garbrandt, especially since they were supposed to fight in Figueiredo’s first title defense.
Another possible fight option is the winner between Alexandre Pantoja and Brandon Royval. That fight is expected to happen on August 21st. Alex Perez and Joseph Benavidez still fit into the mix somewhere. They will both need at least two wins to enter the title picture, especially since both are coming off of losses. Cody Garbrandt still talks about moving down to 125. He could enter the title picture even without a fight. Kai Kara France isn’t far away from a title shot either. Henry Cejudo, who recently retired, has also gained some traction as a possible opponent. But realistically, it will either be Askar Askarov or Deiveson Figueiredo if he chooses to stay at 125. Nonetheless, Brandon Moreno is the new flyweight champion and brings the exact opposite attitude that Deiveson Figueiredo did. Moreno is considered to be one of the nicest fighters on the entire roster and his overcoming of adversity will be cemented in history. From being seeded last on TUF to being cut from the roster to winning the belt after two amazing battles with Deiveson Figueiredo. Moreno looks to have a tough but bright future ahead of him.