UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno eyes November return, not keen on Deiveson Figueiredo trilogy

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LOS ANGELES – Brandon Moreno knows there are many options for his first title defense – and he has preferences.

The newly-crowned UFC flyweight champion is looking to get back in the cage later this year. Moreno (19-5-2 MMA, 7-2-2 UFC) targets a November return and he has a list of names he’d like to potentially face. Among the top on his list, former champion Deiveson Figueiredo is not found.

Figueiredo (20-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) called for a trilogy fight with Moreno after getting his belt taken by Moreno back in June at UFC 263. The two fought twice with Moreno winning the most recent bout by submission and the other being a fight-of-the-year-contending draw.

The Mexican fighter feels there is no need for an immediate trilogy bout given the nature of his win and thinks Figueiredo needs to earn his spot as the challenger.

“I think it’s obvious Figueiredo wants the next one because he lost the last one, but man, last time I dominated him since the first minute of the first round,” Moreno told reporters at a UFC media lunch. “I dominated him in the striking, in the grappling, so obviously I’m open to fight him, but I think he needs to fight with somebody else.”

But beyond the potential trilogy bout, Moreno doesn’t feel like Figueiredo should be fighting at 125 pounds. Although the Brazilian has only missed weight once in his UFC career, Moreno believes Figueiredo is better suited for 135 pounds.

“I think at bantamweight he can make something better there because he can have more energy there and keep the power in his right hand,” Moreno said. “But man, that’s not my decision. Maybe the people hearing this answer, they can say something like, ‘Oh he’s scared of a third fight with him,’ or something like that but to be honest I’m not.

“I’m just trying to be the analyst here. I think it’s a mistake to keep him at flyweight, but that’s not my position to do something.”

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Moreno thinks there are other options that are more interesting and even more deserving than Figueiredo for his first UFC title defense and he has a few names in mind.

“Cody Garbrandt wants to come to the division, that’s a huge fight,” Moreno said. “I know he’s not in the best part of his career, but he’s a good name and he has really good brand behind him. He’s an option. The fight between (Alexander) Pantoja and (Brandon) Royval can be a possibility. Obviously Askar Askarov, but he had an injury in his hand and he’s out for like five months. I don’t know what’s happening with him.

“Right now, I’m thinking to get back to the gym and be prepared for October, November. So I don’t care the name, I just want to fight in those dates (November).”