Fighters Only’s UFC Norfolk preview is brought to you by 5Dimes.
After a brief stop in New Zealand, the UFC train keeps rolling – this time back in the States.
This weekend, UFC Fight Night 169 takes place in Norfolk, Virginia and is a fight card filled with intrigue.
The event is headlined by a UFC flyweight championship bout between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo, both men attempting to become the third-ever UFC champion in that division.
As always, along with the preview of some of the key fights at UFC Norfolk, Fighters Only will be providing picks for the best bets and 5Dimes will provide the odds.
But before that, make sure you take a look at our free MMA guide, created in partnership with 5Dimes.
UFC Norfolk: Flyweight Championship bout – Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
UFC Norfolk is set to be headlined by a UFC flyweight title fight between long-time divisional stalwarts Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo on Saturday night.
It’s for the belt which was vacated by multi-divisional champion Henry Cejudo, who relinquished his flyweight championship in December.
Looking at the official UFC rankings, it’s a fight between number one-ranked Benavidez against third-placed Figueiredo.
Benavidez has been on the precipice of UFC flyweight championship glory ever since the division was introduced in 2012. However, unfortunately for him, Benavidez seems to always fall just short of realising his dreams of becoming champion.
The Team Alpha Male product comfortably got past Japan’s Yasuhiro Urushitani to become one half of the first-ever UFC flyweight championship bout at UFC 152 in Toronto. There, he ultimately ended up on the wrong side of a split decision against future dominant champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Benavidez eventually won his way to a rematch against Johnson around a year after, losing to Mighty Mouse again – this time by knockout.
Despite the publicised, big losses, Benavidez has been nothing but consistent while on his quest to become champion. He’s recorded a 13-3 record since moving down from bantamweight to flyweight, boasting wins over names such as the aforementioned Cejudo, Jussier Formiga (x2), Ian McCall, Tim Elliott, Ali Bagautinov, and Dustin Ortiz (x2).
As for Figueiredo, the Brazilian has looked near-unstoppable as a flyweight apart from his sole loss coming by decision against compatriot Formiga.
The 32-year-old has posted a 17-1 record since embarking on his professional MMA career in 2012.
Since fighting in the UFC, Figueiredo has beaten the likes of Alexandre Patoja, Tim Elliott, John Moraga, Marco Beltran, and Jarred Brooks.
Figueiredo has a high finish rate for a flyweight. “Deus da Guerra” has finished eight of his fights by knockout, while six of his fights have seen him submit his opponent.
What Benavidez has, though is championship fight experience and consistency across the board with eight wins by knockout, nine by submission and 11 by decision.
As the competition has stepped up for Figueiredo, a standard when joining the UFC roster, he’s been to a decision twice in his last three fights.
I can see the fight going to a decision, but Benavidez’s experience should see him finally lift UFC gold.
Recommendation: Joseph Benavidez win by decision – +685 @ 5Dimes
UFC Norfolk: Ion Cutelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev
Third from top of the bill, a monstrous light heavyweight battle between Ion Cutelaba and Magomed Ankalaev should wow the crowd in Norfolk, Virginia.
Cutelaba has made an impression since signing to the UFC roster in 2016.
The Moldovan lost his UFC debut to Misha Cirkunov that year, but his sheer aggression and frenetic pace as he found success in the fight’s early stages certainly caught the eye.
“The Hulk” has posted four wins and three losses since becoming a regular in the promotion’s light heavyweight division. Last time out, Cutelaba scored an upset knockout win over feared striker Khalil Rountree Jr.
As for Ankalaev, the Dagestan multi-martial artist came in with a lot of hype behind his then-unbeaten record.
His debut came against Paul Craig in London’s O2 Arena and he had his way with the Scot and was seemingly en-route to a comfortable decision win.
Losing the fight, Craig threw a hail Mary submission attempt in the dying moments of their fight and shocking caught Ankalaev in a triangle choke. Ankalaev tapped with just one second remaining.
Ankalaev overcame his first defeat in professional MMA with a vengeance. He knocked out Marcin Prachnio with a head kick, before decisioning Klidson Abreu and ending Dalcha Lungiambula with another head kick.
Both men are skilled strikers, but Ankalaev is probably the more cultured of the two and has expertise in the grappling arts to back him up.
I can’t see the fight going the distance, and I think it’s Ankalaev who gets the win here.
Recommendation: Magomed Ankalaev win inside the distance – +130 @ 5Dimes
UFC Norfolk: Benavidez vs. Figueiredo full fight card
UFC Flyweight Championship: Joseph Benavidez vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
Women’s Featherweight: Felicia Spencer vs. Zarah Fairn dos Santos
Light Heavyweight: Ion Cuțelaba vs. Magomed Ankalaev
Women’s Featherweight: Megan Anderson vs. Norma Dumont Viana
Featherweight: Grant Dawson vs. Darrick Minner
Lightweight: Luis Peña vs. Steve Garcia
Bantamweight: Gabriel Silva vs. Kyler Phillips
Middleweight: Brendan Allen vs. Tom Breese
Heavyweight: Marcin Tybura vs. Sergey Spivak
Featherweight: Jordan Griffin vs. T.J. Brown
Featherweight: Aalon Cruz vs. Spike Carlyle
Welterweight: Ismail Naurdiev vs. Sean Brady