UFC 283 may have “Teixeira vs. Hill” stamped as its headline fight and as the focus of the promotion, but it’s one of the undercard fights that looks set to steal the spotlight. Figueiredo vs. Moreno IV continues the history-making flyweight rivalry that saw the Brazilian and Mexican fight three times in back-to-back bouts.
With the score drawn at 1-1-1 to date, the defending UFC Flyweight Champion will be looking to finally put the upstart Brandon Moreno behind him. On the flip side, the fighter once dropped by the promotion seeks to regain Deiveson Figueiredo’s belt and walk away as the division’s champion.
Luckily for fight fans, this tetralogy has been incredible to watch. It’s not one of those forced rivalries manufactured outside of the octagon: it’s one built on the back of two exciting athletes giving their all and producing fight-of-the-year contenders. This is a rivalry that fans have wanted to see reach its fourth and likely final chapter.
Figueiredo vs. Moreno: the story so far
In 2020, the new-look UFC flyweight division was taking shape, with Brazilian upstart Figueiredo determined to take it for his own. He walked through Joseph Benavidez twice and took down Alex Perez in the space of nine months, and then took on Brandon Moreno for UFC 256 just three weeks after beating Perez via guillotine choke in the first round.
Moreno was, naturally, the massive underdog as the fight approached, but you wouldn’t know that watching the fight back. “The Assassin Baby” came blazing out of the traps, just as Figueiredo did, delivering an incredible opening round to the UFC 256 headliner. The pace was unrelenting, and both landed hard hit after hard hit. In the end, a majority draw was the fair outcome.
Six months to the day after the first bout, June 12, 2021, saw the two meet again on the undercard of UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori II. Figueiredo could be described as being a bit overzealous in the rematch, determined to lay down the law to the Mexican underdog. A slip early had the Brazilian fighting the tide, and it all ended with Moreno swiftly turning him to the canvas for a rear-naked choke. After UFC 263, Moreno said he wasn’t interested in a trilogy bout.
#UFC263 Official Scorecard: Deiveson Figueiredo Vs Brandon Moreno
— UFC News (@UFCNews) June 13, 2021
A mere seven months later, on January 22, 2022, the duo met again in the octagon. UFC 263 ended with congratulatory hugs and a genuine sense of comradery between the two, with Figueiredo showing his class. It was a career-defining win for Moreno, but in the third meet, Figueiredo switched it up. At UFC 270, Moreno was the headstrong attacker, while Figueiredo stuck to the game plan and landed three knockdowns.
“Daico” may have come out on top in an unprecedented trilogy, but officially, the scoreboard reads even. Given that each bout was a barnburner, few will be disappointed that a fourth is on the way. To tune up and land the interim rights to validate the fourth further, Moreno got the better of Kai Kara-France at UFC 277 via TKO. With that win, he’s the top contender for Figueiredo’s crown, so a fourth fight is the right move.
Mind games creeping into play for Figueiredo vs Moreno IV
Much of Deiveson Figueiredo’s newfound strategic play against Moreno at UFC 270 was reportedly fuelled by the recruitment of former champion Henry Cejudo. It just so happens that Cejudo was also the former mentor and close friend of Moreno, turned nemesis prior to the third fight, as ESPN recounts. It was Cejudo’s involvement in the Brazilian’s training that helped him to reclaim the belt.
To add further fuel to the fire, with Cejudo likely to be in Figueiredo’s corner, he’s using the fact that UFC 283 will be in Brazil to make Moreno think twice about his training patterns. Per MMAFighting, he said: “I’ve infiltrated someone in your team,” directly to Moreno, and all while leveraging the insider knowledge that comes with having Cejudo in his camp.
Even with these mind games, experts are struggling to split the two, with the 1-1-1 scoreline certainly making it tricky to call a winner. On December 14, Betway has Figueiredo as the -125 favorite, narrowly ahead of Moreno at -105. Helping to give a slight favor to the Brazilian is that he’s the current belt holder, and that the crowd will be right behind him on January 21, 2023, in Rio de Janeiro.
That said, perhaps the expectations, crowd, and favorite tag will make for too much pressure. After all, Moreno has been the underdog in the odds for each fight, even when he was defending the strap. Being at -105 shows that the Mexican is being respected ahead of this one. So, even though some 90 percent of tickets from Eventim at Jeunesse Arena will likely be sold to Brazilians, Moreno might relish his role as the villain again.
Unless another draw is called, UFC 283 will be the concluding chapter of this well-fought saga between two exciting flyweights and will steal the headlines if the two go at it as they have in the trilogy so far.