UFC 263 Preview And Betting Tips
UFC 263 takes place Saturday night at the Gila River Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The headliner will see a rematch between champ Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori as they compete for the middleweight title. The co-main event sees another rematch as Deiveson Figueiredo defends his flyweight title against Brandon Moreno, while fans will also witness the return of the great Nate Diaz as he takes on streaking welterweight Leon Edwards. MMA Viking bring you their preview and betting tips for what should be another explosive night in the octagon.
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UFC 263 PRELIM CARD
Heavyweights open the night’s action as Carlos Felipe meets Jake Collier. Felipe is the slight favorite and should come away with the victory. Lightweight prospects collide as Fares Ziam and Luigi Vendramini meet. It’s a close fight with both fighters coming off wins.
The fan favorite Chase Hooper returns when he takes on Steven Peterson in featherweight action. Despite returning to winning ways with a submission win over Peter Barrett, the young grappler Hooper is a slight underdog against Peterson who snapped a two-fight losing streak to KO Martin Bravo in his last outing.
Lightweight veteran Frank Camacho will look to return to the win column against Matt Frevola. However, it will be a tough task as the 32-year-old has lost four of his last five outings while Frevola has won two of his last three.
Pannie Kianzad could go on a four-fight winning streak when she takes on veteran Alexis Davis in women's bantamweight action. Oddsmakers like her chances over Davis who while coming off a win, has lost three of her last four overall.
An exciting featherweight contest takes place in the prelims as undefeated Movsar Evloev takes on Canadian prospect Hakeem Dawodu. Dawodu is one of the most talented fighters in the division but despite being on a five-fight winning streak including a recent win over Zubaira Tukhugov, confidence seems high on Evloev remaining undefeated.
A pivotal women's flyweight encounter is on the cards as Lauren Murphy battles Joanne Calderwood. The winner of this fight could go on to challenge Valentina Shevchenko for the title next and Calderwood is slightly favored to make it five wins in her last seven. A fantastic fight to be stuck on the prelims.
A light heavyweight rematch takes place between Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart. Their first fight saw Anders almost finish Stewart only to illegally knee him which led to a no contest. However, because of that performance, he is a slight favorite over the Briton in their rematch.
The prelim headliner is a a lightweight bout between Drew Dober meets Brad Riddell. Dober is coming off a submission defeat to Islam Makhachev which halted a three-fight winning streak. Riddell is far from an easy task as he is 3-0 in the UFC. However, the money seems to be on Dober returning to winning ways.
UFC 263 MAIN CARD
Paul Craig (14-4-1) V Jamahal Hill (8-0, 1NC)
Paul Craig and Jamahal Hill open up the main card in an intriguing light heavyweight encounter. Craig is coming off a TKO win over former light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua and is unbeaten in his last four overall. Hill is a hot prospect, meanwhile, remains undefeated in his professional career and most recently TKO'd former title challenger Ovince Saint Preux back in December. It’s a classic striker vs. grappler matchup but Hill should have more than enough in him to keep the fight standing, staying away from submisstions, and eventually get the finish.
Demian Maia (28-10) V Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1NC)
Demian Maia takes center stage in what could be his final UFC fight when he collides with Belal Muhammad. Maia recently underwent a resurgence as he embarked on a three-fight winning streak until he was knocked out by Gilbert Burns last year. Muhammad, meanwhile, saw his winning streak snapped after suffering a gruesome eye poke against Leon Edwards which led to a no contest earlier this year.
This fight should be interesting if Maia can get it to the ground. That said, Muhammad should be able to keep it on the feet and come away with the victory over an aging Maia.
Leon Edwards (18-3, 1NC) V Nate Diaz (21-12)
Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz clash in the first five-round non-title, non-main event welterweight clash taking place on a UFC card. Edwards is coming off a no contest after accidentally eye poking Belal Muhammad in March. However, he looked very good prior to that incident and was previously on an eight-fight winning streak with eyes on getting the next title shot.
Diaz, on the other hand, hasn’t competed since suffering a TKO stoppage to Jorge Masvidal in their BMF title fight back in November 2019. Prior to that, he outpointed Anthony Pettis with those fights being his only ones since the summer of 2016. Anything can happen especially in a Diaz fight. However, Edwards is one of the most skilled fighters he will have faced in recent times and it’s hard to see a way to victory for him. Edwards is a massive favorite and should get a title shot with a victory. However, could one more “surprise” be up Diaz’s sleeve? This should be a good one!
Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) V Brandon Moreno (18-5-2)
Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno will look to have a definitive ending in their flyweight title rematch. The pair initially fought each other in December for the 125-pound strap just a month after they competed at UFC 255 as they battled in a thrilling majority decision draw that was easily a Fight of the Year candidate.
It was largely Figueiredo throughout the contest as he landed the more devastating punches, but Moreno had plenty of moments of success and even rocked the Brazilian at one point badly. However, what eventually separated them was an illegal low blow from Figueiredo which saw him get a point deducted. Along with the champion claiming he was sick during the entire fight, it comes as no surprise that he remains a solid favorite over the Mexican in what should be his first title defense.
However, Moreno is extremely durable so don’t be surprised if this ends in another decision.
Israel Adesanya (19-1) V Marvin Vettori (17-4-1)
The main event of the evening sees another rematch as middleweight champion Israel Adesanya collides with heated rival Marvin Vettori. Their first meeting came just over three years ago when Adesanya more or less dominated Vettori.
However, one judge scored it for the Italian, which led to a split decision win for “The Last Stylebender.” That’s not to say that Vettori didn’t deserve a round at least as he definitely had his moments against Adesanya, including the ability to get a take-down.
This time, the fight will be five rounds and for the 185-pound crown with both fighters improving massively and remaining undefeated at 185 pounds since their first meeting. Adesanya, however, is coming off a unanimous decision defeat to Jan Blachowicz in their light heavyweight title fight back in March. Vettori, meanwhile, is on a five-fight winning streak and is coming off a dominant win over Kevin Holland.
Ideally, it’s the best time to face Adesanya. That said, the champion -- who last dispatched of Paulo Costa with ease back in September -- is still on another level compared to the rest of the middleweights and is a solid favorite to earn his third title defense. Adesanya is ready to get a finish, and I expect him to do so in a triumphant return to the middleweight division.
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About Ryan O’Leary
Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008.