UFC 263 gets underway this Saturday night on June 12, 10 pm ET, live from the Gila River Arena in beautiful Glendale, Arizona.
The fight gods have blessed us with a main card that’s absolutely stacked full of superb talent, capped off by the intriguing rematch between Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori for the middleweight strap.
There’s plenty more than just the main event to concern yourself over, mind you: Justin Figuereido vs. Brandon Moreno for the flyweight title should be an absolute treat if the first bout is anything to go by.
Not to mention the Stockton Slugger Nate Diaz is on the card, making UFC 263 a rare triple headliner! Diaz is set to face off against Britain’s Leon Edwards in a contest that has all the makings of a fight of the night spectacle.
Plus, there’s a whole lot more where that came from too, including some great bouts on the undercards. So, be sure to tune in nice and early and get ready for another night of carnage inside the UFC Octagon.
But before all that, take a look at our previews and predictions for the main card, along with the latest odds available @ the UFC’s official betting partner, DraftKings.
UFC 263: Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill Preview
The Bear Jew Paul Craig will meet Jamahal Hill in a light-heavyweight clash in the first bout of the evening.
Craig is in good form. The Scottish fighter has high-level grappling and jiu-jitsu and has won three of his last five encounters inside the Octagon. The most recent of which was a TKO win against the former light-heavyweight champion Shogan Rua at UFC 255 in November.
Hill has never lost a fight inside the Octagon and owns an 8-0 record (4-0 & 1NC in UFC). The Chicago native returned from a six-month suspension for testing positive for cannabis to KO Ovince St.Preux at UFC Fight Night: Hermansson vs. Vettori last December.
Odds & Prediction
Craig has won five of his six wins in the UFC by submission and should be considered a specialist in the art by now.
What Craig will need to contend with is the problem: Hill’s KO power, long arms, and well-placed shots have troubled every man brave enough to step into the cage with him…
Plus, we’ve all seen the BearJew knocked out three times in the UFC already. And against lesser caliber opponents than Hill at that.
I’ve got to go with the oddsmakers on this one: Jamahal Hall to win by KO in Round 2.
DraftKings Odds: Paul Craig: +225; Jamahal Hill: -286
UFC 263: Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad Preview
Brazillian Jiu-jitsu specialist Demian Maia takes on Belal Muhammad in the second fight of the evening.
A win for the No.12 ranked Muhammad could catapult him above Maia in the welterweight rankings. The Brazillian is currently clinging on to his top ten standing at No.10.
A perennial contender in the division, submission specialist Maia (28-10) continues to flatter to deceive. The Brazillian rebounded from a three-fight losing streak to the murderer’s row of Tyron Woodley, Kamaru Usman, and Colby Covington to beat Lyman Good, Anthony Rocco Martin, and Ben Askren. But a tough KO loss to Gilbert Burns at UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliviera in March of 2020 halted the tide. Maia hasn’t fought since. And at 43, there are doubts as to whether or not he can put together another title run.
Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad’s most recent bout came in March. But his fight against Leon Edwards was ruled a no-contest after the Brit accidentally gauged Muhammad’s eye early on. It was a nasty-looking poke, and it’s good to see the Chicago native back in action having suffered no serious injury.
Odds & Prediction
Muhammad’s wins in the UFC have tended to come courtesy of decision. He is a decent striker and his purple-belt jiu-jitsu and ability to wear on an opponent are useful assets. But, I’m going to for a sentimental Demian Maia win on Saturday night.
If Remember the Name can keep the fight standing, of course, he has a great chance of knocking Maia out. But I just have a feeling this could be a slow burner that does make its way to the mat. And when it does, I fancy Maia to blanket Muhammad and take submission victory in the third round.
Plus the odds on a Maia victory are pretty good considering his pedigree…
DraftKings Odds: Belal Muhammad: -230; Demian Maia: +180
UFC 263: Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz Preview
What else is left to say about Nate Diaz? He may lay claim to a 21-12 record. And he might be coming off the back of a tough TKO stoppage vs Jorge Masvidal. But few fighters in UFC history can boast the kind of fan loyalty reserved for the Stockton Slapper. And there’s a reason for that loyalty:
Diaz is a stamina fighter. He rarely (if ever) gets tired during a fight. In fact, he often seems to improve the longer the war wages on – just ask Conor McGregor. On top of that, Diaz’s kangaroo-esque stance and ability to throw sharp jabs have been the downfall of many an opponent. And then there are the American Ninja’s submission skills to worry about. The oddsmakers certainly see Diaz as the underdog for this contest. But Leon Edwards had better ‘bloomin’ well’ not, or he could be in for a long and painful evening, especially in the five-round format.
As mentioned, Edwards’ last fight vs. Muhammad ended up being an NC due to the eye poke the Brit inflicted on his opponent. Before that though, Rocky had been on a real run in the welterweight division, winning eight straight against the likes of Gunnar Nelson, Donald Cerrone, and Rafael Dos Anjos. It is worth mentioning, however, that only one of those eight wins came courtesy of a KO/TKO (VS. Peter Sobotta)…
Odds & Prediction
Leon Edwards might be the favorite for this UFC 263 bout. But, personally, I have my reservations about how the Brit is going to get the job done.
Edwards does have five-round experience from the Dos Anjos and Cerrone fights. And on both of those occasions, he was able to outstrike his opponents on route to decision wins. But if Edwards can’t get his opponent out of there early, which is unlikely vs. Diaz, I worry how he will fare when the American Ninja kicks into gear in the later rounds and starts walking him down.
Diaz to win this one via fifth-round TKO.
DraftKings Odds: Leon Edwards: -560; Nate Diaz: +400
UFC 263: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs. Brandon Moreno (Flyweight Championship) Preview
“What a slobber knocker!” said Joe Rogan from the commentary booth post-Figueiredo vs. Moreno 1. And he’s right. It was!
So, fans are in for a real treat when Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo run back their classic championship draw from UFC 256 at UFC 263 on Saturday.
In that first contest, Figueiredo certainly appeared the better technical striker, particularly in the early rounds. But Moreno held his own right from the moment Bruce Buffer exited the platform. And, as the fight went on, Moreno was able to draw on that intangible Mexican spirit to do a ton of damage of his own, eating shots to land his own. And causing the champion a lot of problems in the middle of the fight.
It certainly felt to me like had his shoulder not popped, which seriously limited the Mexican’s output, Moreno would have emerged victorious – the man has some heart and some gas tank to boot.
I’ll keep this preview short since this is, without doubt, a fight between the two best in the division, and everything you need to know is on tape from the first encounter that took place just six months ago (if you don’t have FightPass, don’t sweat: the UFC has kindly put the first contest up on YouTube, so go check it out if you haven’t already!)
Odds & Prediction
It seemed as though Moreno started to figure out Figueiredo’s timing by about the mid-way point of the first contest. The Mexican had little success in the final round. But that was mostly because Moreno’s shoulder had popped out of the socket. Prior to the injury, few could argue that the Assassin Baby had been in the ascendency.
This is such a tough fight to call, as evidenced by the prior draw. But I genuinely think Moreno will get the job done at the second time of asking.
Moreno to win by unanimous decision.
DraftKings Odds: Deiveson Figueiredo: -250; Brandon Moreno: +200
UFC 263: Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Marvin Vettori (Middleweight Championship) Preview
UFC 263’s main event will see the Last Stylebender Israel Adesanya return to middleweight to defend his belt vs. game Italian opponent Marvin Vettori.
Adesanya already holds a split decision W over Vettori. The pair met on the undercard of UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Gaethje in 2018. The first fight also took place at the Gila River Arena. Vettori disagreed with the decision. Adesanya did outstrike him but the Italian Dream controlled the clinch, scored a few takedowns, and landed some decent strikes of his own. Fighting can be subjective sometimes. But, regardless, it seems Vettori is determined to set the record straight and waltz off with the championship gold come Saturday night.
Since that first fight with Vettori, Adesanya has been unstoppable in the middleweight division. The Nigerian KO’d a peak Robert Whitaker to win the belt and has defended his title twice vs. Yoel Romero and Paolo Costa. In short, Adesanya has beaten the best of the best in his favored weight class.
The step-up in weight to capture Jan Blachowicz’s title may not have gone according to plan for the Last Styebender. He suffered a unanimous decision loss to the Pole at UFC 259. But his striking pedigree is unquestionable and, back at middleweight, he reigns supreme.
That said, pressure-fighter Vettori has won his last five straight, including decision wins over tough opponents Jack Hermansson and, most recently, Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 23 back in April – sleep on the Italian Dream at your peril!
Odds & Prediction
Adesanya has a six-inch reach advantage and is the far superior technician when it comes to the stand-up game. If the fight stays on the feet, especially at a distance, you can expect to see Adesanya light up his opponent come Saturday’s main event.
The task for Vettori will be to penetrate Adesanya’s rangy defenses and to make the Nigerian’s life difficult. The Italian needs to fight in a phone booth and use his wrestling to take the contest to the mat. Assuming he can do so, Vettori then needs to do a much better job than he did in the first fight of inflicting damage and catching the judges’ eyes. He can’t solely rely on top-control to capture a belt.
If Vettori can get Adesanya down and disrupt his game plan in the same way he did in the first contest, he absolutely has a chance of leaving Arizona the middleweight champion of the world. Personally, though, I’m not so sure he will – Adesanya is due a big performance and tends to rebound well from adversity.
If you want my two cents’ worth, it’s Adesanya to win by TKO in the fourth round. That said, a cheeky UFC 263 wager on Vettori as the underdog isn’t a terrible idea either…
Draftkings odds: Israel Adesanya: -250; Marvin Vettori: + 200