The UFC is back in front of a live crowd this Saturday night when they travel to the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, for UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2. As has become the norm with many of these UFC PPV cards, we will be treated to a stacked, two title night affair. In the headliner, Isreal Adesanya returns to the middleweight division after a failed attempt at “champ-champ” status to defend his title against the surging Marvin Vettori. In the co-main men’s flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo defends his title for a second time in a row against Brandon Moreno after their first fight ended in a draw. Finally, as if two-title fights weren’t enough, in the featured bout of the night we get the return of cult favorite and UFC superstar Nate Diaz, who takes on the #4 ranked welterweight Leon Edwards. All in all, this stacked 14-fight card should not disappoint. But before we dive into this week’s card, let’s take a look back at UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Sakai and review our best bets. You’ll find my full list of fight picks for both the main card and the preliminary card for this week's UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 at the bottom as well.
All lines below provided by DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing. All stats provided by UFCStats.com
Last Week's Recap - UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Sakai Betting Record:
All Fight Picks: *6-6
Official Plays: 0-2
*One fight ended in a no contest and one fight was cancelled
We will right this ship - we’ve simply had too much success this year to say other wise. Miguel Baeza (-125) took on Santiago Ponzinibbio (+100) in a bout that ended up receiving fight of the night honors, but unfortunately for us, Baeza ended up on the wrong side of a split-decision loss. The kid got his first taste of defeat in his young MMA career and I'm confident that he will be back and better than ever. Ponzinibbio, on the other hand, may not be a shell of himself after all. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (-130) vs. Augusto Sakai (+105) was a bad bet in hindsight, as it’s a heavyweight fight where any one punch can end it. Rozenstruik posses that kind of power, and I should have respected it more than I did. Rozenstruik knocked Sakai out in the first round and our shot at a profitable night along with it. Nonetheless, let’s now turn our attention towards this week’s ridiculously stacked card and break down our bets for UFC 263 on Saturday night.
Isreal Adesanya (-275) vs. Marvin Vettori (+215)
Isreal Adesanya looks to remind everyone of his dominance in the middleweight division when he takes on Marvin Vettori Saturday night for the middleweight crown. Adesanya might've failed at his first attempt to become a double champion, but he’s now back to defend his title against a man he beat back in 2018.
This fight comes down to one question - can Vettori replicate Jan Blachowicz’s game plan and get Adesanya to the ground and control him? Vettori is going use his known aggressiveness and forward pressure to keep Adesanya on his back foot. He does not want Adesanya to get comfortable in the cage and find his range. If he does, then it may be a short night for him. On the feet, Vettori has some heavy leg kicks that he targets the body with. He also has nice one-two combination that ends with a heavy cross.
Ultimately, Vettori will look to clinch with Adesanya and drag him to the ground where he can use his strength to control his opponent and land ground and pound. That is Adesanya’s only real “weakness” at this point in his career, too, and he will do everything he can to avoid the fight from getting to the ground.
Adesanya's going to need to use his reach advantage to keep Vettori off of him as well on Saturday in the main event. He will look to utilize his range to pick Vettori apart from the outside with his precision striking. He’ll also keep Vettori guessing with his elite level feints and footwork that draw him into counters.
So who’s going to win this fight? While Vettori presents some challenges for Adesanya - mainly his strength and grappling prowess, especially given what we saw Blachowicz do to Adesanya in their previous fight. Vettori, however, is not Blachowicz. He’s not as big or strong as he is. He also is not as dangerous on the feet in the striking department. I believe that the size and weight difference of Blachowicz really gave Adesanya troubles, rather than the pure grappling matchup or skills at hand.
Adesanya has fought wrestlers and grapplers in the past and has been able to stop takedowns, or at the very least immediately get back up if taken down. Adesanya’s frame is deceptively strong, too. He leverages his length very well in the grappling department, and while Vettori could surely put on the performance of his life and beat Adesanya, I do not see it happening here. Adesanya already beat Vettori two and half years go, and Vettori is still a walking target on the feet for Adesanya’s precision striking.
Adesanya and his coaches are smart and cerebral as well, and I trust that they’ve made the proper adjustments after Adesanya’s first pro MMA loss. I believe Adesanya will use his kicks to keep Vettori at bay and pick him apart for five straight rounds en route to a decision victory. Simply put, Adesanya is just better and more skilled here. The pick is Isreal Adesanya (-275) to win and I'll put three units on it.
Deiveson Figueiredo (-225) vs Brandon Moreno (+175)
Deiveson Figueiredo is looking to prove that the eye poke in their last fight was the only thing that stopped Brandon Moreno from adding another number to his loss column. Both of these fighters are coming off a fight of the year contender and looking to finish what was an anti-climatic finish to their last fight here.
I do not mean this in a derogatory manner, but Moreno’s game plan and style is "basic." He is going to look to work off his jab and land his patent left hook, and he has no trouble leading with the hook as he is walking his opponent down or throwing it as a counter when he is being pressured himself. His wrestling base allows him to mix in takedowns, and he had success at getting Figueiredo down in their first fight as well. Where Moreno excels is his toughness- he’s uber tough and has a ridiculous chin, and he will walk through fire to get the victory. We saw that in the first fight, and I believe we'll see it again on Saturday.
Figueiredo loves a good fire fight himself. He thrives in fire fights in fact, and on the feet he's a varied striker who utilizes his pinpoint accuracy and power to do damage to his opponents. He will look to land powerful straights that he times perfectly off of the counter. In range, he will also look to cut Moreno open with his slicing elbows. He’s strong in the clinch too, so any grappling attempts by Moreno can be thwarted. If the fight hits the ground, he does a nice job of transitioning and looking for submissions.
This one is pretty simple for me. Moreno is gamer and he’s not going to go down without a fight, but unfortunately for him, he’s going down. Although he withstood the offensive onslaught of Figueiredo in the first fight, he would’ve lost a unanimous decision if it wasn’t for the point deduction. Figueiredo’s game really has no holes at the moment. He’s the superior fighter here, no matter where this fight happens to take place. Ultimately, I believe Figueiredo finishes Moreno inside the distance for a decisive, statement-making type of victory. The pick is Deiveson Figueiredo (-225) to win, and I put two and a half units on it.
Drew Dober (-155) vs. Brad Riddell (+125)
I’m going to keep this one relatively short - this has 'fight of the night' written all over it. Both of Drew Dober and Brad Riddell have similar fight styles and are both fluid and technical strikers on the feet. They each throw multiple punch combinations, and they use their feints and in and out movement really well to draw out a response from their opponents. They also both have good defensive head movements.
Where they slightly differ, however, is that Riddell mixes in his wrestling a little bit more than Dober. He does a good job of landing ground and pound in transitions too, although he does not control his opponents in general very well on the ground. On the feet, Dober is the stronger and more powerful fighter, and he has legit one-punch knockout power. Dober is also very patient during exchanges on the feet. He does not rush anything and remains patient from round to round during his battles in the octagon.
I do not fault anyone taking the dog here, as I can definitely be convinced that there may be value in him, but what stops me from playing that side is the openings Riddell leaves up in the pocket. You do not want to do that against Dober, who can land one punch and end the fight in an instant. I love how Dober cuts off the cage as well. He got throughly dominated in his last fight to a grappling-heavy fighter in Islam Machachev, but that was Islam Machachev, the future champion of this division. Dober is going to be the faster and stronger fighter here, an I’d also argue that he is more technical fighter. I believe Dober finishes Riddell inside the distance here. The pick is Drew Dober (-155) to win outright, and I put two units on it.
Lauren Murphy (+117) vs. Joanne Calderwood (-148)
We have a very important fight going down in the flyweight division, where the winner between Lauren Murphy and Joanne Calderwood could very well be the next challenger for Valentina Shevcheko’s belt.
Lauren Murphy, the +117 underdog here, has had a bit of a career resurgence since she left MMA Labs. She’s won four straight fights and looking to make it five on Saturday night. Her striking has improved recently as well, and she’s now throwing crisper combinations with noticeably more power behind them. She’s always been strong for the division, but she’s now using it more and more to her advantage.
Calderwood (-148), on the other side, is a fluid, volume type of striker on the feet. She operates from a Muay Thai base, where she utilizes front kicks, one-two combinations, and leg kicks. In the clinch, she's devastating to say the latest, and she throws beautiful knees to the body and elbows to the head.
Skillwise you’d think I’d go with Calderwood here, but there’s more than meets the eye with her. She is skilled, sure, but she also makes a lot of mental mistakes in the cage. She puts herself in compromising positions too often and has a tendency of folding under pressure. She was next up for a title shot but decided to take a “keep busy fight” while Valentina Shevchenko was healing up and ended up getting dominated and losing her shot. Her cardio after the first round is questionable as well. One thing we do know is that Murphy is going to bring it for three straight rounds. She is on a four-fight win streak and knows that a win here gets her the title shot. She’s much stronger than Calderwood too, and I believe that this will be her path to victory. Murphy will put the pressure on Calderwood early and often, as she will not let her get comfortable in the cage and get off at range. This is going to be a tough, gritty fight, but I believe Murphy gets the decision victory. The pick is Murphy (+117) to win, and I put one and a half units on it.
Last week, for my “Live Dog of the Night," I focused on Ilir Latifi (+160), who I believed was a live dog against Tanner Boser (-200). It was not pretty but, Latifi came through for us with a split decision victory. For this week’s live dog, I’m going to switch it up a bit and go with not just one, but two “Live Dog of the Night” bets for UFC 263.
“Prop Bet of the Night” - Deiveson Figueiredo Wins By Finish (+135)
Deiveson Figueiredo (-225) is a straight killer. He looks to get the finish in each one of his fights has the skills to do it, too. He can knock you out with his pinpoint powerful accuracy, or he can lock up a tight submission. He is always looking for a finish and is not content on just winning on the scorecards. His opponent is tough to finish, especially via knockout, as Moreno has only lost inside the distance once in 25 fights. He has yet to be KO'd in his career, but if you go back and watch the first fight, you'll see Figueiredo almost knocked him out a few times but Moreno recovered. Figueiredo has 12 finishes in his 22 pro fights. Something’s got to give, and I believe it will be Moreno’s durability. There is a reason this is a pizza bet, but I believe there is great value on a guy that actively seeks to finish his opponent on a consistent basis.
“Parlay Bet of the Night” - Isreal Adesanya & Deiveson Figueiredo (+102)
I already broke down both of these fighters and their upcoming fights above. Simply put, they are just too skilled and too smart for their opponents this weekend over the course of five rounds. I typically do not like to bet on parlays when it comes to MMA - as the sport can be extremely volatile on a week-to-week basis - but when I do, I look for fighters and matchups that I believe are "money spots." We get to parlay two extremely skilled, talented, and smart fighters on Saturday night and we get plus money? I’ll take it.
All Picks For UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2
Main Card (10PM EST on ESPN+)
Isreal Adesanya (-275) vs. Marvin Vettori (+215)
Deiveson Figueiredo (-225) vs. Brandon Moreno (+175)
Leon Edwards (-560) vs. Nate Diaz (+400)
Demian Maia (+180) vs. Belal Muhammad (-230)
Paul Craig (+225) vs. Jamahal Hill (-286)
Preliminary Card (8PM EST on ESPN/ESPN+)
Drew Dober (-155) vs. Brad Riddell (+125)
Eryk Anders (-150) vs. Darren Stewart (+120)
Lauren Murphy (+117) vs. Joanne Calderwood (-148)
Movsar Evloev (-240) vs. Hakeem Dawodu (+188)
Early Preliminary Card (6PM EST on ESPN+)
Pannie Kianzad (-205) vs. Alexis Davis (+162)
Matt Frevola (-305) vs. Terrance McKinney (+235)
Chase Hooper (-108) vs. Steven Peterson (-115)
Fares Ziam (-143) vs. Luigi Vendramini (+115)
Carlos Felipe (-175) vs. Jake Collier (+135)