UFC 263: Adesanya Repeats Over Vettori
By Harry Jensen
Israel Adesanya remains the UFC middleweight champion after defeating Marvin Vettori with a flawless unanimous decision on all the judges scorecards.
His landing of 10 leg kicks in round one and his impressive get-up from Vettori’s takedown was a tell of how the fight was going to pan out, as Adesanya would severely damage Vettori’s leg and prevent any intense pressure from the Italian, whilst simultaneously preventing any conceding of significant ground control time, unlike his last outing against Jan Blachowicz.
Adesanya was never in any real danger throughout the fight, which is a testament to how far he has progressed in his grappling skills in particular, considering his first fight with Vettori went to a split decision.
Vettori ultimately didn’t show the passion and desire of a champion in the later rounds, as many of his takedown attempts were half-hearted and resulted in no real offence or danger of winning any rounds.
It also lead to some comical taunting by the champion, who would yawn when Vettori had him against the cage after an aforementioned takedown attempt, and even slap his bum a few times.
The co-main event, however, stole the show as Brandon Moreno submitted Deveison Figuiereido in an upset to become the UFC flyweight Champion, and also the first Mexican-born UFC champion.
Moreno made his intentions of aggression and high pressure clear from the opening bell, as he landed 29 strikes to Figueireido’s 6, accompanied with a knockdown from a jab.
The second round was characterised as a grappling contest between the two, with ‘Deus da Guerra’ accumulating 1:30 of top control on the ground, but at the same time conceding 2:58 to Moreno.
In the third, Moreno shot for a takedown and managed to secure a tight body lock on the scramble. This indicated that it was only a matter of time until Moreno found his rear naked choke, as he already had 10 wins by submission before this fight.
Moreno had quickly become a fan favourite throughout fight week, as his love for LEGO collecting and his kind, happy character was in direct contrast to Figueireido’s intimidating persona to create a pantomime-esque story line for fans to follow in the lead up.
The Brazilian and Mexican’s rivalry has seemingly come to a close, and this affair has seen the consolidation of the flyweight division as one with more than one elite fighter at championship level, and has proven itself to be a draw PPV-wise, too.
In an organisation first, UFC 263 featured it’s first 5-round non-main event bout, which saw the return of fan-favourite Nate Diaz against surging 9 fight winning streak Leon Edwards from Birmingham, England.
It started off like any Diaz fight: with plenty of taunting for no reason.
Edwards started off by landing heavy leg kicks and eventually opened up the scarred face of Nate as the fight progressed, with heavy bleeding around the forehead and a brand new gash in his hair courtesy of a sharp Edwards elbow.
What was seemingly a routine victory for the highly talented Edwards was marred with a unique ‘slap-2’ combination from Diaz which snatched the legs from underneath ‘Rocky’, and saw him retreat from the now-aggressive Diaz in the final minute of the fight.
Mere seconds away from a finish, the final bell rang and Edwards stumbled back to his corner and managed to survive, with the biggest win in his career against arguably one of the biggest names in the UFC.
The post-fight presser had Dana White confirm that Colby Covington would be next in line for the title shot, so it leaves Edwards without a title shot until at least next March if the Usman vs Covington is made around this Autumn, as it has been rumoured.
The England-native will hopefully be looking to fill the time with another fight to consolidate his place amongst the highest of the welterweight division, but who that opponent could be is currently uncertain.
Elsewhere on the main card, Paul Craig got himself an impressive first round finish against undefeated light-heavyweight prospect Jamahal Hill with unanswered ground and pound.
The dominant position on the mat was reached by a failed takedown which led to a sprawl, and he ended up dislocating Hill’s arm in a very strong arm triangle submission.
Fortunately, there wasn’t a bone break or any ligament damage to the American, whilst the Scotsman walked away tonight $50,000 richer with his ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus.
The ‘Fight of the Night’ accolade was handed out to the featured prelim between Drew Dober and Brad Riddell, the latter being a City Kickboxing teammate of Adesanya.
The fight was a high intensity, action packed barn-burner, with both men opting to swing for the fences very early on, and both men suffering a wobble or two as the fight progressed.
But it was Riddell who ended up the victor, with a significant strike differential of 16 over Dober, and his 5 takedowns surely helped his case for winning too.
This win has helped the New Zealander to break into the top 15 of the stacked lightweight division, and it will be fun to see who he is matched against next.
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