This weekend the world-famous UFC Octagon heads towards The Valley of the Sun but does a quick pivot in order to land in the beautiful city of Glendale, Arizona. On Saturday we will be treated to not one but two world title rematches: both in the men’s divisions; one in middleweight and the other in flyweight when UFC champion Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) defends against Brandon Moreno (18-5-2). As if that wasn’t enough, the Baddest Motherfucker himself, Nate Diaz will be taking on Leon Edwards in what Dana White said will allow the winner to go and compete for the Welterweight title later this year.
The UFC 263 main event will be a rematch of bitter rivals as UFC 185lbs champion, Israel “The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya (20-1), locks horns with Italy’s own, Marvin Vettori (17-4-1). Marvin has been calling out the king of the division for a few years now and their grudge stems simply from their first battle. That amazing 2018 night at UFC on FOX: Poirier vs. Gaethje, then undefeated Israel Adesanya got the points triumph over the “The Italian Dream” Vettori via split decision in a fast-paced 3-round match.
Go ahead and try convincing Marvin that he lost, he has yet to accept that defeat.
It’s poetic that the UFC Fight Night event where they first met happened in Glendale and is now where those two monsters will continue their rivalry. The best part about this 5-rounder is that they are far from the versions we saw on FOX having both solidly improved since then. The challenger in his ability to maintain a strong pace for the entire match; be it 3 or 5 rounds and stick to a game plan. For a while there Vettori thrived off brute strength & physical ability plus, a great ability to adjust during fights. But, that drained him of his gas tank so sticking to a strategy has become extremely beneficial; just look at his main event decision victories over Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland. Now, combine that with some solid wrestling and top control, which the Italian has, mix in a carbon copy of the Jan Blachowicz blueprint on how to beat Izzy and you have the recipe to crown a new 185lb champion on Saturday.
That is however if Adesanya has not drastically upped his arsenal since that embarrassing loss 3 months ago at UFC 259 at 205lbs. What if the loss was the best thing to happen to him ala Francis Ngannou vs Stipe Miocic 1? Another tremendously talented Nigerian and UFC champion in Ngannou he reinvented himself following that defeat to Miocic then violently ripped the crown from Stipe in their rematch. It’s not out of the question that Adesanya can elevate his stellar game further but he clearly did not have the time or fights Francis did in order to rebuild and readjust.
A major factor is going to be how well “Stylebender” bounces back from his first loss. If he doesn’t fire on all cylinders and expose Marvin’s inability to block jabs, body shots and lead left hooks in order to break the Italian down, it can be a long night. Vettori showed us that he has no problem trading heavy leather in the pocket but that needs to not be his strategy this time. That’ll give Adesanya the openings to get comfortable and pick him apart from just outside of range – if he can stop the takedowns of course.
In the Flyweight division, we see a rematch of the December 2020 championship fight as Figueiredo takes on Morena in a battle that is increasingly getting more and more personal. The buildup to this fight doesn’t have the circus atmosphere or the boisterous personalities as the main event participants, but what it lacks in noise is surely compensated by the pure hate that exists between the two fighters. The big question to be answered is whether Figueirado is healthy enough to produce a performance that can deliver a knockout, as he predicted, or will Moreno surprise everyone again, albeit a little less surprise this time, and show the heart and skill to take claim of the coveted belt and be recognized as the best Flyweight in the world.
And last, but certainly not least, Nate Diaz is fighting. Yes, Nate Diaz is fighting. Enough said about that. Well, maybe one more point on that topic. The only thing that can ruin a Diaz fight is…… Leon Edwards, who just so happens to be Nate’s opponent. There’s so much to break down for this fight, but the intrigue has been set simply by having Nate ready and competing in the Octagon again. Lets just sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and the fights this PPV will bring, we can argue about the details and results next week…
Enjoy fight fans!!
(Nate Diaz performing healing ritual)