By News Team
11th June 2021
The UFC pay-per-view action returns to Arizona this weekend with the middleweight and flyweight belts both on the line, plus a history-making five-round non-title event to get it all underway.
We preview the key bouts below.
Israel Adesanya v Marvin Vettori
Israel Adesanya returns to defend his middleweight title against Italian challenger Marvin Vettori in the highly anticipated main event of UFC 263.
Adesanya began his year by testing himself up a division, yet came up short in his ‘double champ’ quest for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259 – suffering the first loss of his MMA career to Jan Blachowicz in the process. Now returning to the division he’s dominated since arriving in the UFC, the 31-year-old is looking to cement his rule over the middleweight ranks by collecting a third successful title defence, and second victory over Vettori.
Five fights into his UFC career in 2018, Vettori was just coming off a split decision loss to Adesanya in a highly competitive contest where the 27-year-old challenger improved as the fight went on. Since then, ‘The Italian Dream’ has rattled off five straight wins, including back-to-back unanimous decision victories in five-round main event fights – with the final outcome never in doubt.
Vettori has remained adamant in his belief that he won the first fight against Adesanya, and is currently 21/10 to unseat the middleweight throne, with the Italian 9/2 to win by decision. Adesanya is the 4/11 favourite to reclaim his belt, with a show-stealing finish for the Nigerian-born New Zealander at 9/5, as many expect ‘The Last Stylebender’ to make a statement.
Deiveson Figueiredo v Brandon Moreno
The flyweight title is once again hanging in the balance with Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno back to do it all over again after their intense draw last year. The wild brawl was an instant classic and UFC president Dana White called the fight the best in the history of the flyweight division.
Now, after having time to recover, reset, and a full training camp under their belts, these two standouts are set to battle it out in the co-main event.
The fast and powerful Brazilian Figueiredo has been on fire since suffering the lone loss of his career in early 2019 and is looking to continue his flyweight reign by putting away Moreno this weekend to retain his title.
Having gained a first-hand understanding of what the champion brings to the table, it will be interesting to see if challenger Moreno can complete his climb to the top of the flyweight division on Saturday night. Expect this fight to be fought at a rocket-fast pace and Figueiredo’s crisper striking could set up his favoured submission options.
‘The Assassin Baby’ Moreno is a specialist in scrambles, with his conditioning, combinations and chin the keys to him finding a way to win. He finds himself as the 7/4 underdog on the night.
Leon Edwards v Nate Diaz
For the first time in UFC history, a non-title fight stationed outside of the main event will be contested over five rounds, with Britain’s welterweight hope Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards looking to secure the biggest win of his career in a clash against America’s cult hero Nate Diaz.
It’s been a challenging 12 months for Edwards with no fights in 2020. The Birmingham native finally got back to the octagon in March – where he had won eight straight bouts prior – before collecting a no contest verdict in his return due to an inadvertent eye poke on Belal Muhammad.
Edwards had looked sharp for his first five minutes of action since beating Rafael dos Anjos in 2019, and he’s already on the shortlist of potential title challengers in the welterweight division.
A win here may give Dana White no choice but to make Edwards the unquestioned top contender going forward.
Stockton’s favourite son, Nate Diaz, returns for the first time since his BMF title fight in New York with Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 in 2019, which ended in a doctor’s stoppage defeat.
The 36-year-old is the ultimate wild card with his high-volume approach and bottomless gas tank making him a nightmare match-up for anyone. He is 4/1 for an unexpected win, however stranger things have happened.