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The first highly anticipated PPV of the summer is officially here. UFC 263 has two title fights on the line in the Flyweight and Middleweight divisions. Israel Adesanya will look to make it another title defense with a rematch against the red hot Marvin Vettori. Meanwhile, Deiveson Figueiredo is looking to finally put a stamp in his legacy with a win over the tough Brandon Moreno in their immediate rematch. This fight card is littered with top notch talent, and it’s going to be one for the ages. With that said, let’s dig deep into the odds.
Jamahal Hill (-310) vs Paul Craig (+240)
Two very exciting light heavyweights clash in the main card opener. #14 Paul Craig is taking on #15 Jamahal Hill in a fight that can really push either fighter up the rankings.
Jamahal Hill is one of the most exciting prospects in the light heavyweight division. He has been on a tear, winning all 3 fights in his UFC career. Hill is taking on the dangerous Paul Craig, who will try to push him to his breaking point. If Hill can keep this fight on the feet, he has every chance of making it 4 in a row and show that he is not a prospect anymore but a contender in the Light Heavyweight division.
The submission specialist Paul Craig comes into this fight riding a two-fight win streak. Each of Craig’s 14 wins have come inside the distance, making him a dangerous fighter in every fight. If he wants to show Hill that there are levels to this fight game, he’s going to need to weather the early storm of Hill, drag him into deep waters and test his submission defense.
Jamahal Hill has looked sensational as of late, especially in his last fight against Ovince Saint Preux. The longer this fight stays on the feet, the harder it is going to be for Craig to win this fight. Expect Hill to fend off the takedowns early, setting the tone for the rest of the fight and punishing Craig midway through the first round.
The pick: Jamahal Hill (-310)
Belal Muhammad (-230) vs Demian Maia (+184)
Two staples of the Welterweight division are set to battle it out in a fight between #9 Demian Maia vs #13 Belal Muhammad. This is a very interesting matchup between two fighters who are on two different career trajectories at this point of their respective careers.
Belal Muhammad had some tough luck in his last outing against Leon Edwards, where the fight ended early in the second round due to an inadvertent eye poke. Muhammad has been on a tear since his time in the UFC, with a 9-3-1 record and winning 8 of his last 9. He is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the Welterweight division, as he can strike as well as grapple with anyone. He is going to want to keep this fight standing and stay out of the grasp of Demian Maia, the deadliest submission artist this sport has ever seen, if he wants to get the biggest win of his career come Saturday night.
The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend Demian Maia makes his first appearance of 2021 this weekend against Belal Muhammad. Now at age 43, his best years are behind him, but he is still one of the most dangerous fighters one could face. He has the style to make this a very compelling fight, and it’s going to be interesting to see what he has left in the tank.
This fight can go either of two ways: Muhammad is able to keep his distance, out of the reach of Maia, and land his strikes as he pleases; or Maia is able to get a hold of him, drag him to the mat and just neutralize any striking attacks that may come his way. It’s hard to envision Muhammad just getting controlled on the mat by Maia at this point of his career. Also Muhammad’s defensive grappling has been sensational throughout his tenure with the UFC, defending 85% of takedowns attempted against him and only one fighter has more than 1:00 of control time against him. He should be able to fend off the takedowns, keep his distance and cruise to a one-sided decision victory.
The pick: Belal Muhammad (-230)
Leon Edwards (-590) vs Nate Diaz (+410)
In this Welterweight matchup, we have the highly anticipated return of Nate Diaz to take on the #3 ranked Leon Edwards in a #1 contender fight for the Welterweight championship. This is going to be an absolute war between these two Welterweight standouts.
Leon Edwards’ return fight didn’t go as planned, as it only lasted 5:18 due to inadvertent eye poke. Even in that small sample, Edwards looked the best he ever had. If he can build on that performance here against Nate Diaz, there should be no reason why he isn’t fighting for the title after the rematch between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington.
Nate Diaz is a fan favorite throughout the sport of MMA, and whenever he fights, eyes will be glued to the screen. With that said, Diaz hasn’t been at his best at this stage of his career, coming off of a one-sided beatdown by the hands of Jorge Masvidal. This is a very tall task for Diaz after being out of commission for 19 months. He’s going to have to bring the dog to the fight if he wants the chance at a colossal upset.
On paper, this is the easiest fight for Edwards in quite some time. Diaz is always a tough out, but he’s on the tail end of his career. Edwards has him beat everywhere this fight takes place. You can expect Edwards to dictate where this fight takes place and punish Diaz for the majority of this fight to solidify himself as the #1 contender.
The pick: Leon Edwards (-590)
Deiveson Figueiredo (-230) vs Brandon Moreno (+184)
The highly anticipated rematch for the Flyweight championship is our co-main event for this massive PPV. Deiveson Figueiredo will be looking to defend his title once again against the very dangerous and very game Brandon Moreno in a fight that you can expect to be a barn burner.
Deiveson Figueiredo has been an absolute beast since he stepped foot inside the octagon. He has next level power at the lowest professional men’s weight class and has a dangerous submission game, making him a complete fighter. He should be in much better shape this go round, as he doesn’t have to cut weight twice in a month span nor does he have food poisoning. So we can expect the best out of Figueiredo in what could be the fight of the night.
Brandon Moreno is your typical Mexican fighter, one who is super tough, durable and willing to stand and trade with anyone. His toughness and cardio really pushed Figueiredo to the brink of exhaustion in their first encounter. If he can keep that pace and pressure, as well as mix in the takedowns as he did in the first fight, then Figueiredo is going to have a very tough fight on his hands.
This is a very evenly matched fight, much like the first one. But like the first fight, Figueiredo has the considerable edge in striking and fighting ending capabilities. Moreno is always a game opponent that is tough to put away, but with the extra time to prepare for this fight, Figueiredo should perform at his best and retain his flyweight title.
The pick: Deiveson Figueiredo (-230)
Israel Adesanya (-280) vs Marvin Vettori (+220)
In our main event, we have the reigning defending Middleweight champion of the world Israel Adesanya rematching the dangerous and #3 ranked Marvin Vettori. There is some bad blood between these two, which should make for one exciting fight and a great one to end the fight card.
Israel Adesanya is coming off of the first loss of his MMA career, and it was up a weight class against the Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz, which is no fault there. Lucky for Adesanya, Vettori is no Blachowicz and should have his way with him on the feet. Both fighters have gotten noticeably better since their first fight years ago coming into this rematch. But much like their first encounter, Adesanya should be able to keep this fight standing and put a beat down on Vettori on the feet.
Marvin Vettori comes into this fight with a ton of momentum, riding a 5-fight win streak. Unfortunately for him he did have a win over a top 5 ranked opponent during that time. Nonetheless he’s fighting for the title, and he’s coming in looking the best he ever has. Vettori is going to need to replicate exactly what Blachowicz was able to do in order for him to be the first ever Italian UFC World Champion.
It is really hard to envision Vettori doing what no one has been able to do in the Middleweight division. He isn’t going to have a 25-30lb weight advantage like Blachowicz did. So the chances of him being able to take Adesanya down and keep him there or get the finish over the course of 25 minutes is going to be slim. Adesanya is going to do what he does best, and that is keep this fight standing and unleash long range attacks as Vettori comes within range and putting him out before the last and final bell.
The pick: Israel Adesanya (-280)
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The former New Zealand Muay Thai Kickboxing World Champ is finally getting a tailor made matchup against Drew Dober. Dober will be looking to stand and trade in the center of the octagon which is right in Riddell’s wheelhouse. He should be able to showcase his striking abilities to his full potential and show why he is one of the top prospects in the Lightweight division.
Steven Peterson comes into this fight with a ton more experience than his young counterpart Chase Hooper. Peterson and the whole world knows what Hooper is capable of and considering that Peterson has never been subbed by high level grapplers, he has a good chance of getting the win here. He should be able to land at will at distance and keep this fight on the feet to get his first win streak going in the UFC.
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