If the rematch is anything like the first fight, the headline bout at UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 should be a barnburner. The stakes are much higher this time with Israel Adesanya putting his middleweight belt on the line Saturday against top contender Marvin Vettori in one of two title fights on the ticket.
The main event highlights a five-fight main card that will certainly provide fireworks to UFC fans everywhere. A total of 13 fights are scheduled on the ticket from Gila Bend Arena in Glendale, AZ. You can catch all the action on ESPN and pay-per-view.
Two Championship Rematches
Adesanya (20-1) moved up a weight class for his last fight losing to Jan Blachowicz for his first professional loss. He returns to a class he’s dominated for years looking to successfully defend his middleweight crown for a fifth straight time. One of the best tactical fighters not just in his class but in the entire UFC, Adesanya hit the board as a -260 favorite. Since losing a split decision to Adesanya in April 2018, Vettori has won five consecutive bouts emerging as the main threat to the undisputed king of the class.
The first title fight of the night is another rematch featuring flyweight champ Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) against Brandon Moreno (18-5-2). The wildly entertaining first bout ended in a draw after Figueiredo had a third-round point deduction for an illegal strike.
Moreno hasn’t lost in five fights (3-0-2) since returning to the UFC in 2019 looking to complete his ascent to the top of the division on Saturday night. Moreno nearly pulled off the upset as a heavy underdog last December, but Figueiredo was in the octagon just three weeks after a submission of Alex Perez. The odds aren’t nearly as long this time with Figueiredo positioned as a -230 favorite on the opening line.
The Return of Nate Diaz
Two title fights on the main card isn’t even the biggest news out of UFC 263. The return of Nate Diaz (21-12) and his polarizing effect on the sport have hogged the headlines. Diaz hops in the octagon for the first time since his BMF title fight with Jorge Masvidal back in November 2019. He has a tough task ahead of him against streaking Leon Edwards (18-3). This is such a big deal for UFC that for the first time a non-title fight that isn’t the main event will consist of five rounds.
Five fights are scheduled for the early prelims card with another four bouts filling out the slate for the preliminary round. Those fights can be seen on ESPN and ESPN+ with the main card available on pay-per-view. Let’s take a closer look at few fights on the docket.
Marvin Vettori (+201) vs. Israel Adesanya (-260)
Adesanya tested himself earlier this year moving up a class. He came up short in his bid to win the light heavyweight crown in a unanimous decision to Jan Blachowicz. He was at a disadvantage in that fight weighing in at 200 pounds, five pounds away from the class limit. As a result Adesanya lost for the first time in his MMA career. The setback not only put a blemish on Adesanya’s record, it also gives contenders a glimmer of hope that maybe the champ is ripe for a takedown.
Vettori is a confident challenger who feels he was the victor in the first bout. “Judges screw up a lot of times. Here I am ready for the rematch and ready to settle the score once and for all,” he said. Vettori hasn’t lost since that setback winning five consecutive fights, four by unanimous decision, including the last two over Kevin Holland and Jack Hermansson that went the full 25 minutes though the results were never in doubt.
He’s a well-rounded fighter who has the ability to negate Adesanya’s strengths, much like he did in the final round of the first fight by recording a pair of takedowns. But it was Adesanya’s superior ability over the first 10 minutes that proved the difference and it will again.
UFC Prediction: Israel Adesanya / Decision
Brandon Moreno (+179) vs. Deiveson Figueiredo (-230)
While the first bout between these two went the distance it’s hard to imagine them replicating that performance. The pair combined for 269 significant strikes and six takedowns and how they were both standing at the end was a near miracle.
Figueiredo did plenty of damage just three weeks after successfully defending his belt. Given ample time to prepare for the rematch, it’s unlikely Figueiredo takes his opponent lightly. “Now I’m 100 percent. Saturday the fans will see the real Deiveson in the octagon and it’s time for Moreno to have his nightmare.”
Figueiredo has been unstoppable since his only loss winning five straight before a draw with Moreno in December. Three of them were first round submissions against quality competition like Alex Perez, Joseph Benevidez and Tim Elliott.
Moreno proved to be a worthy opponent in the first bout, but he’s facing a rested fighter this time. Figueiredo is just too explosive with devastating kicks and thunderous punches. I just don’t see Moreno sticking around for the distance on Saturday.
UFC Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo / 3rd Round TKO
Check out today’s UFC 263 fight odds.