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UFC 263 is heading to Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona this week, and there’s a pair of title fights and a loaded fight card to look forward to — all happening in front of a live audience.
A middleweight title fight sits at the top, with champion Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya taking on challenger Marvin “The Italian Dream” Vettori.
Adesanya will head into the fight with a 20-1-0, record, 15 KOs, and no submissions. Vettori, the No. 3 fighter in the class, heads into the ring with a 17-3-1 record, 2 KOs, and 9 submissions.
Adesanya and Vettori met once before in April 2018, where Adesanya earned a split decision victory in the same arena the two will fight in on Saturday. When they met in the first installment of the fight, Adesanya proved he was a much better striker, but Vettori had the edge in the grappling department.
As the Italian fighter tried to show his confidence and pushed forward with strikes, Adesanya responded with low kicks and reminded his opponent who the better stand-up fighter is. Vettori changed his approach in Round 2, but Adesanya seemed to have a tactical defense, found the rhythm and strategy necessary to keep his significant strike numbers up. It wasn’t until Round 3 Vettori got Adesanya down to a dominant position.
At present, FanDuel Sportsbook has Adesanya as a (-275) favorite to win with Vettori returning (+220) for the fight. More importantly, for new FanDuel Sportsbook users it has an incredible offering with a 30:1 odds boost, in any legal state, on either fighter.
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Adesanya and Vettori still argue about the results from the first encounter, bringing a level of excitement into Saturday’s title fight — UFC 263 can settle the debate once and for all.
In Adesanya’s most recent fight on March 6, he lost to light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-45, 49-45). Adesanya, the middleweight champion, was attempting to become just the fifth fighter in UFC history to hold two titles concurrently — it marks the first loss in his career.
Vettori’s most recent win was a dominating unanimous decision victory over Kevin Holland on April 10. The Italian Dream set a middleweight record with 11 takedowns in his last bout and is on a 5-fight win streak heading into Saturday’s fight.
Adesanya and Vettori both weigh 185 lbs, the middleweight champ is 6-foot-4 while his challenger is 6-foot-0. Adesanya has an 80-inch reach and Vettori has a 74-inch reach.
Adesanya averages 3.95 significant strikes landed per minute with a 49% accuracy rate, while Vettori averages 4.14 significant strikes landed per minute with a 44% accuracy rate. The middleweight champion averages 2.63 significant strikes absorbed per minute with a 61% defense rate, while the Italian fighter averages 2.90 significant strikes absorbed per minute with a 66% defense rate. Adesanya has an 82% takedown defense rate, while Vettori has a 78% takedown defense rate.
Adesanya is a counter-striker who uses feints, diverse striking, and movement to tear up his opponents, but Vettori excels on the front foot and combines solid boxing with wrestling ability. Both have evolved and improved since they last fought.
Adesanya’s wrestling weakness was exposed against Blachowicz, and Vettori doesn’t have the same level of size and strength the light heavyweight champ does — he’s also the same weight.
These are both extremely talented fighters, but if Adesanya wins the technical battle like he has his entire career — and uses his movement and length to strike at range — he should be able to pick up the win by decision.
The pick: Israel Adesanya (-275)
|Method of Victory||Israel Adesanya||Marvin Vettori|
|Win by KO/TKO||+175||+1,200|
|Win by Points||+155||+420|
|Win by Submission||+2,600||+1,000|
Coverage of the main card will start at 10 p.m. on ESPN/ESPN+ PPV. Adesanya vs Vettori 2 will be the final fight of the main card.
Light Heavyweight: Jamahal Hill -260 vs. Paul Craig +210
Welterweight: Belal Muhammad -245 vs. Demian Maia +198
Flyweight Championship: Deiveson Figueiredo -250 vs. Brandon Moreno +205
Welterweight: Leon Edwards -450 vs. Nate Diaz +340
Lightweight: Drew Dober -130 vs. Brad Riddell +108
Light Heavyweight: Eryk Anders -138 vs. Darren Stewart +115
Women’s Flyweight: Joanne Calderwood -110 vs. Lauren Murphy +110
Featherweight: Movsar Evloev -215 vs. Hakeem Dawodu +176
Women’s Bantamweight: Pannie Kianzad -220 vs. Alexis Davis +180
Lightweight: Matt Frevola -188 vs. Frank Camacho +155
Women’s Bantamweight: Karol Rosa -200 vs. Sijara Eubanks +164
Featherweight: Steven Peterson -130 vs. Chase Hooper -108
Lightweight: Fares Ziam -115 vs. Luigi Vendramini -104
Heavyweight: Carlos Felipe -285 vs. Jake Collier +230