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Two title fights, a bag of cash and UFC history

Read more at www.espn.com.au

Deiveson Figueiredo needed less than two minutes to submit Alex Perez on Nov. 21 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas to retain his flyweight title. The plan was to return home to Brazil shortly after the fight, but then everything changed — quickly.

Now, Figueiredo is set to make UFC history.

Figueiredo’s first Vegas trip ended up being an extended stay because the UFC offered him a quick-turn fight against Brandon Moreno, who also won via first-round stoppage at UFC 255 on Nov. 21. The two will headline Saturday’s UFC 256 card at the Apex.

Figueiredo will be making UFC history for the shortest span — 21 days — between title fights. The current record is 56 days, shared by Ronda Rousey and Matt Hughes.

Here’s a look at how the flashy Figueiredo, who is from the small town of Soure, Brazil, spent part of his three-week stay in the fight capital of the world.

Saturday, Nov. 21: “I’ll fight him next week”

Just a few minutes separated Figueiredo’s win over Perez and the start of the Moreno fight promotion. In the postfight interview with Joe Rogan, Figueiredo knew what he needed to say, to his opponent and to UFC president Dana White.

“I’m here to challenge Brandon Moreno,” Figueiredo said through a translator. “Do you want to fight me in December? I am the best pound for pound, so I am here at your disposal.

“Come on, Dana, make this fight happen in December.”

It didn’t take long for Figueiredo to realize the UFC was thinking along the same lines.

“When he won and didn’t get hurt, Hunter [Campbell, UFC chief legal officer] came up to me and said that Dana White wanted him to fight in December,” said Figueiredo’s manager, Wallid Ismail. “I went to see Deiveson. ‘I’m fine, I’ll fight him next week.’ That was Deiveson’s answer to me.”

The fight was scheduled. White said during the postfight news conference that he would not let either of the two fighters leave Las Vegas.

“There was no way to say ‘no,’ because he is a guy who fought in the same event that I did,” Figueiredo said. “We had a weight cut, now we have to recover the body and fight again.

“I am ready, I am strong, you can be sure that I am ready to go five rounds, even six. The UFC came up with the idea, and I immediately accepted. I live by war.”

Sunday, Nov. 22: The day off

Figueiredo limited himself to one day of “total free time,” as defined by Ismail.

“We did everything,” Ismail said. “He finally could buy the toys he never had.”

Figueiredo, who estimated he spent about $5,000, and his team toured Las Vegas and shopped. He added to his wardrobe, and enjoyed different food.

“I visited a wonderful mall here in the city,” Figueiredo said. “I was able to shop. I even found out about a salad that Wallid likes and I really enjoyed it. I am dying to finish this fight and go back there to eat it again. That was a big dish.”

Figueiredo went to The Venetian and ate at The Cheesecake Factory, but no desserts were ordered.

“He didn’t want to eat the cheesecake, so you can see the mindset,” Wallid said. “He ate a pizza on Saturday night, but nothing too heavy. On Monday, he hadn’t gained that much weight.”

Monday, Nov. 23: The recovery

Figueiredo returned to training at the UFC Performance Institute, where he started his week of recovery, guided by physical trainer Rogerio Melo.

From there, the champion’s routine would be: hotel to gym, gym to hotel, at least two times a day. The first days were dedicated to physical recovery. The X’s and O’s of the fight would be the focus of the second week.

While Figueiredo trained, Ismail also had an important mission: closing the final details of the fight. That day, he met with Campbell again to sign the contracts.

And also to set up a meeting with White.

Tuesday, Nov. 24: Bonus time

Despite his dominance over Perez, Figueiredo did not win one of the $50,000 performance-of-the-night bonuses.

He wasn’t happy, and he made his displeasure known during the postfight news conference.

“I saw all the UFC fights that night,” Figueiredo told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Tuesday. “I thought I did a great show for the public. I thought I deserved the bonus.

“When I didn’t get it, I just wanted to go home and relax with my family.”

Instead, he had a personal meeting with White three days after the fight.

“My manager was told that he would have a meeting with me personally,” Figueiredo said. “He took me there, but nobody knew it was about the bonus. We thought it was just another meeting to talk business.”

There was a bag waiting for Figueiredo.

“When he gave me that gift, I was very happy,” Figueiredo said. “He apologized to me for not giving me the bonus at the end of the fight, and he said he had made a mistake and was criticized for it, but that he had recognized that mistake and was there to fix it.

“When I opened the bag, it was a bag with money.”

Friday, Nov. 27: Life-fulfilling news

Figueiredo always envisioned being a UFC champion, but that wasn’t his only dream. He also wanted his brother, Francisco, to join him in the promotion. That came true on Nov. 27 when the UFC signed Francisco, who is expected to debut in January.

“It was the best news I received here in Las Vegas,” Deiveson said. “In this rush to find another fight, receiving this news gave me an extra impulse to train even more. I am also happy I will be able to help him for his debut.”

Deiveson lived with Francisco in Belem, Brazil, where Deiveson had jobs as a sushi chef, hairdresser, security guard and fisherman.

“He said that this is what was missing in his life — his brother entering the UFC,” Ismail said. “That is awesome. He said, ‘It will be good for my brother to fight in January because I will continue training. I will arrive in Belem, to train with him.’

“This is how Deiveson operates, he is thinking ahead. But of course the main focus now is towards this fight.”

Deiveson already has plans to return to action in 2021, and he told Helwani he wants to fight former two-division champ Henry Cejudo next.

Week 2: The weight cut

One of the most complicated aspects of the quick turn is cutting weight. Some believe it was a mistake for Tony Ferguson to cut weight twice in a month before he lost to Justin Gaethje on May 9.

But for Figueiredo, staying near his fighting weight might prove beneficial.

“I always go up very quickly after the fight, but now I had to keep the weight for a while,” Figueiredo said. “I really hope it will be easier. I have been training and burning calories for over three months. Now they are just liquids to remove, so it will certainly be easier.”

Figueiredo said on Tuesday that he weighed 135 pounds, 10 pounds over the flyweight limit, but one pound less than he weighed on the Tuesday before the Perez fight.

“He continued with the diet and has just a sensational biotype,” Wallid said. “He even joked with me: ‘Sometimes it was 10 days before the fight and I was still eating açaí before traveling. Here I am eating with no salt, and I am fine, very good!'”

Week 3: Fight week

This week is just like any other fight week for Figueiredo. While cutting the final weight and preparing the strategy to face Moreno, Figueiredo also has scheduled interviews with the media from around the world.

It’s something he has gotten used to — and it is even easier because he does not have to travel this time.

Everything is on track for the historically quick turnaround.

“I’m going to enter with a goal: Put him down and submit him,” Figueiredo said. “But if he chooses to trade with me, I’ll do my best to knock him out. And still in the first round.”

In other words, quick work.

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