UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Predictions & Fight Picks

UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Predictions

Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori

Coming off an unsuccessful attempt to seize the light-heavyweight title from Jan Blachowicz, Adesanya now drops back down to defend his middleweight title in a rematch with Vettori, who he beat by split decision back in 2018.

The first fight was certainly intriguing, particularly since Vettori had some success taking Adesanya down, but  though ‘The Italian Dream’ kept things competitive on the feet, itโ€™s somewhat telling that 15 out of 17 media outlets scored the fight in โ€˜The Last Stylebenderโ€™sโ€™ favor.

That was only Adesanya’s second fight in the UFC, and he’s since gone on to win seven more fights and establish himself as the 185lb kingpin. While Vettori has also been in fine form, racking up five victories, although he’s largely managed to sidestep the other top contenders on his path to title contention.

This time around I still feel Adesanya has a significant striking advantage, together with having a 4″ in height and 6″ in reach over his opponent. Vettori is a hard-headed, hard working and very capable striker, but realistically he’s not on the same level as the champ technically, isn’t as dynamic and is also literally playing into the champion’s hands with his forward pressure due to the razor sharp counters he’ll be greeted by.

The key for Vettori then is to mix in his grappling, since as talented as Adesanya is, he’s not the most well-rounded champion we’ve ever seen. That being said, Adesanya’s takdown defense has improved, but even if Vettori can’t always get him down, just unsettling him and keeping him from finding his rhythm in the striking department would aid his cause.

Overall though I still lean towards Adesanya here as with his speed, timing, precision and movement he’s going to be able to punish Vettori repeatedly as he pushes into range. Vettori is likely tough enough to endure that for the full five rounds, but I think he won’t be able to find enough moments of success with his grappling to outweigh the damage he takes on the feet, leading to a decision win for Adesanya.

Prediction: Israel Adesanya to win by decision.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno

Moreno was a significant underdog heading into his first title fight against Figueiredo, but did well to battle his way to a majority draw, albeit partially thanks to the champ being deducted a point for a third round groin strike, and as such has forced an immediate rematch.

It’s easy to identify Moreno’s heart and hard work, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that he’s also a talented, well-rounded fighter too. His pace and pressure are hard to match, but Figueiredo proved to be a willing dance partner last time out and demonstrated his own impressive cardio over five rounds.

Of course the difference is that while Moreno was good on the counter and was willing to trade with the champion blow-for-blow, Figueiredo simply has more firepower at his disposal and landed the more meaningful, damaging blows.

Moreno is quick and crafty on the mat, but Figueiredo can handle himself well there too, and on the feet, as resilient as ‘The Assassin Baby’ is, I think the Brazilian still has the stopping power to potentially finish this one inside the distance as he’s one of the hardest hitters we’ve ever seen at 125lbs.

I’ll give the challenger the respect he’s earned though by saying this one heads to the judges though, where this time Figueiredo earns a decision victory.

Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo to win by decision.

Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz

Edwards waited what felt like an eternity to attempt to build on his eight-fight winning streak before finally landing a fight against Belal Muhammad in March, which initially seemed to be going according to plan as he controlled the action in the opening round, before an accidental eyepoke early in the second round led to a no-contest ruling.

So, technically Edwards has now gone nine fights without tasting defeat as he lands the kind of high-profile fight he’s been craving by welcoming back Diaz, who was last seen losing out to Jorge Masvidal in a fight for the one-off ‘BMF’ belt back in November of 2019.

An interesting extra wrinkle to this matchup is that even though it’s a non-title fight and is only third on the PPV card, it’s actually going to be a five-rounder. Typically that would be good news for Diaz due to his excellent cardio, which can help him wear down opponents down the stretch, but in this instance Edwards own gas tank appears well-equipped for that.

In terms of the striking battle, Diaz is a well versed, high-volume boxer with a 2″ reach advantage here and of course is also renowned for his toughness. Edwards has proven to be an effective kickboxer though and his kicks from range are likely to be a significant weapon, though itโ€™s worth noting that he’s not as active offensively as Diaz.

A big part of Edwards success in the UFC has been down to the fact that he’s not only a good striker, but also brings an effective wrestling game to the Octagon too, and he’s not been afraid to put that to good use at times to grind out wins on the scorecards.

That could well be a problem for Diaz as he has been outwrestled in the past and Edwards size and athleticism at 170lbs only makes things trickier, although of course Diaz’s crafty submission game always offers up a potential threat from his back.

Overall though I feel that Edwards can handle himself well in this fight regardless of where it goes, and given Diaz’s patchy form at 170lbs, I see Edwards handily striking and wrestling his way to a decision victory here.

Prediction: Leon Edwards to win by decision.

Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad

Despite now being 43-years-old, Maia’s desire to compete still burns bright, and he still holds down the No.9 spot in the welterweight ranks heading into this fight against the No.12 placed Muhammad.

It’s possible this could be the last fight of 43-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu masterโ€™s career as he’s on the final bout of his current deal, and it is a bit of a tricky one for him since one of Muhammad’s key strengths is his wrestling.

While Muhammad will likely think twice about taking Maia down due to his phenomenal submission ability, he will likely use it defensively to try to stop Maia from getting this fight on the mat in the first place, which has been a real problem for him in the past.

On the feet Maia is not a fish out of water, but while he has some decent fundamentals, he’s never been the most explosive or hard-hitting striker, and at his age his stand-up game is more likely to erode than his grappling ability.

As for Muhammad, he’s developed a solid striking game that’s based around pushing a high pace and I’d expect him to be the far busier fighter here offensively, while also landing the more impactful blows.

Muhammad’s only been stopped once by strikes, but we have seen him hurt at times. However, I don’t really feel like Maia’s the fighter to really capitalize on that and so it’s going to be a difficult night for him unless he can somehow get Muhammad to the mat.

Unfortunately for the veteran I think his attempts to do so will only chip away at his energy reserves and enable Muhammad to outstrike him to earn either a decision or potential even a late stoppage via strikes.

Prediction: Belal Muhammad to win by decision.

Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill

Earlier in his UFC career Craig actually had more losses than wins, but lately he’s managed to go four-fights unbeaten to secure the No.14 spot on the 205lb rankings,  while Hill is currently undefeated with eight wins and a no-contest under his belt so far.

It’s no big secret that Craig’s strong suit is his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and in particular his uncanny ability to lock in the triangle choke, even in the dying stages of a fight.

To his credit though, Craig has also shown some improvements in his striking ability too and he’ll mix in some solid kicks in with his punches, but he’s certainly far from the quickest, slickest or most active with his output, so it’s not something heโ€™ll want to rely on too much.

On the other hand, Hill is proving to be a very good long-range striker and will have a three-inch reach advantage to work with here. To put it in a nutshell, everything that Paul lacks on the feet, Hill appears to possess and should be the much bigger threat of the two in the striking exchanges.

Given that his takedown defense is solid too, I think there’s a good chance here that ‘Sweet Dreams’ will be able to stop Craig via strikes inside of two rounds.

Prediction: Jamahal Hill to win by TKO in Rd2.

UFC 263 Prelims

(Predicted winners in bold)

Drew Dober vs. Brad Riddell

Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart

Joanne Calderwood vs. Lauren Murphy

Hakeem Dawodu vs. Movsar Evloev

Pannie Kianzad vs. Alexis Davis

Frank Camacho vs. Matt Frevola

Luigi Vendramini vs. Fares Ziam

Chase Hooper vs. Steven Peterson

Jake Collier vs. Carlos Felipe

Ross Cole
About the Author: Ross Cole

Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process.
You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.

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