Diego Ferreira has been quietly working his way up the Lightweight rankings, coming into UFC 246 just inside the top fifteen at #13. While he might only be known to the most hardcore MMA fans, he’s got a bigger following on the BJJ circuit after consecutive medal-winning performances at the IBJJF No-Gi World Championships shortly before starting his MMA career.
The 3rd degree black belt from ATOS Jiu-Jitsu was racking up victories in the octagon before his appearance at UFC 246 opposite Anthony Pettis, but the fans hadn’t had a chance to see much of his submission game until now. He’d earned a 7-2 UFC record including winning his last five fights in a row, but had only won his first fight by submission, all the way back in 2014. Ferreira ended his dry run in emphatic fashion by putting on a thoroughly dominant display of technical Jiu-Jitsu against one of the best MMA grapplers out there.
Diego Ferreira started off well by putting constant pressure on Pettis and not giving him enough space to work his trademark unpredictable striking game. Pettis was able to defend the first takedown attempt and quickly showed that if the fight stayed standing, he’d be at a comfortable advantage. Pettis tried to counter Ferreira’s second takedown attempt with a knee but he was only able to slow him down for a second before Ferreira dragged him down and took his back within seconds.
Ferreira tried for a Rear Naked Choke and while Pettis managed to spin out of it and escape to his feet. Ferreira was relentless pursuing the takedown, pinning Pettis against the cage and working short punches until Pettis escaped, giving him the opportunity to shoot for a clean double leg takedown. Ferreira passed Pettis’ guard again, straight into side control this time and fired off some vicious elbows as the 10 second timer sounded. Pettis managed to work back to guard and attempt an Armbar but Ferreira stood straight up and avoided the danger as the round ended.
The second round had barely started when Ferreira shot for a takedown again and took Pettis’ back for the second time. It was genuinely shocking to watch someone with as great a ground game as Anthony Pettis being outgrappled so cleanly as Ferreira sunk in his hooks to secure the back fully in less than twenty seconds of the second round. Pettis tried to spin out and scramble to his feet only to be pulled back down as Ferreira took his back again. One more attempt to stand by Pettis led to him exposing his neck just enough for Ferreira to sneak in an arm and lock up a Rear Naked Choke again. He couldn’t get under his chin but it wasn’t needed as you could see the pain in Pettis’ face, he tapped shortly after and gave Ferreira his sixth consecutive victory.
Ferreira should move into the top 10 at Lightweight now and set up a big fight for later this year as he works towards every Lightweight’s goal, Khabib Nurmagomedov.