GLENDALE, Ariz. — UFC 263 headliner Israel Adesanya defends his middleweight title against Marvin Vettori in the main event of Saturday’s stacked card. Adesanya defeated Vettori by split decision in 2018, a close fight that was one of Adesanya’s most difficult en route to the title. Vettori firmly believes he won that bout — and he’s looking to eliminate all doubt with UFC gold on the line.
Adesanya, who will be vying for his third successfull title defense, is ranked No. 3 on ESPN’s pound-for-pound list, and he’s No. 1 at middleweight while Vettori is No. 6 in the division.
Vettori (17-4-1) has won five in a row. The Italy native has not lost since that bout with Adesanya in April 2018. He is attempting to become the first Italian-born fighter to win a UFC title.
In the co-main event, Deiveson Figueiredo defends his flyweight title in a rematch against Brandon Moreno. The two fought to a majority draw at UFC 256 last December in what was one of the best fights of 2020. Figueiredo (20-1-1), 33, and Moreno (18-5-2), 27, are each unbeaten in six straight. If Moreno wins, he’ll be the first Mexican-born fighter to capture UFC gold.
Also on the card, Leon Edwards takes on fan favorite Nate Diaz in a five-round, non-title bout, which could be a welterweight title eliminator. Edwards (18-3, 1 NC), a Jamaican-born England native, is unbeaten in nine straight fights. Diaz (20-12), fighting out of Stockton, California, has not fought since a loss to Jorge Masvidal for the mythical BMF title at UFC 244 in November 2019. He’s looking for his first win since August 2019.
In addition, welterweight veteran Demian Maia meets Belal Muhammad, light heavyweight prospect Jamahal Hill takes on the crafty Paul Craig and Lauren Murphy faces Joanne Calderwood in a potential women’s flyweight title eliminator.
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Fight in progress:
Valentina Shevchenko just might have her next opponent.
Murphy has emerged as a likely candidate for the UFC’s next flyweight title shot, following her split decision victory. After a close first round, Murphy, of Houston, dominated Calderwood on the floor in the second and pulled off two 29-28 scores. A third judge saw it 29-28 for Calderwood.
Calderwood, who fights out of Las Vegas, had some success on the feet with elbows and leg kicks, but Murphy responded with heavy right hands of her own. The action was relatively even on the feet, but it was one-sided on the ground. Murphy converted a takedown early in the second, but struggled to get Calderwood down in the third.
Murphy has now won five in a row, and went into the bout as the UFC’s No. 3-ranked flyweight. Calderwood was ranked No. 6 going in.
Evloev remained undefeated by being relentless with his ground game for the first two rounds, then getting another takedown when he really needed it.
The 27-year-old Russian landed four takedowns in the first round, controlling Dawodu on the canvas for most of those five minutes. When he came out for Round 2, Evloev took Dawodu to the mat again within 15 seconds, controlling the middle round with more grappling. He was fully in charge.
In the final round, though, after fending off a couple of takedown tries, Dawodu landed a left hand that wobbled his opponent with a minute to go. The crowd erupted, but Evloev waved his hand over his head, as if to say, “I’m fine.” But Dawodu landed flush with a right hand, then another. Was Evloev going to survive?
He did, leaning on his best friend: the takedown. Evloev took the fight back to the canvas and made it to the horn. He got to hear the judges’ scorecards: three scores of 29-27, giving him his fifth UFC victory.
Dawodu, who is 29 and from Calgary, Alberta, lost for the first time since his UFC debut in 2018.
The UFC women’s bantamweight division might have a new contender.
Kianzad outboxed Davis en route to a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) victory, one of the best of her career thus far. Kianzad landed punching combinations early and often, causing swelling and bleeding on Davis’ face from the first round.
All #UFC263 Results ⤵️:
— UFC News (@UFCNews) June 13, 2021
The boxing shown by Kianzad was pretty slick throughout. She found a home often for a left hand at the end of combinations. A pair of right hands in the second round snapped Davis’ head back. Davis was able to gain some momentum, landing right hands in the second and third rounds that opened a cut near Kianzad’s left eye. Davis had her best round in the third, but Kianzad was able to finish the fight with a right hand and then a left that wobbled Davis.
Kianzad, 29, has won four straight and six of her last eight. The Iranian-born fighter is unranked by ESPN in the women’s bantamweight division, but that could very well change after this victory. Davis, a 36-year-old Canada native fighting out of California, has lost four of her last five.
It only lasted seven seconds, but a lot happened in McKinney’s UFC debut.
McKinney (11-3), who accepted Saturday’s lightweight contest against Frevola (8-3-1) on short notice, recorded the fastest stoppage in the division’s history, as he knocked out Frevola in just seven seconds.
McKinney’s debut even got the attention of UFC superstar Jorge Masvidal, who tweeted, “So close!” The tweet was in reference to Masvidal’s record 5-second knockout, courtesy of a flying knee against Ben Askren in 2019.
So close! #ufc263
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) June 12, 2021
Following the stoppage, McKinney leapt off the cage in celebration and injured his right knee. He said afterwards he would be OK, although he limped out of the arena.
“I buckled my knee,” McKinney said. “It’s super tight right now.
“I think I just tweaked it a little bit, but I’m definitely going to go to the doctor and get an MRI and make sure everything is ok.”
McKinney dropped Frevola in the opening exchange with a left hand to the chin. Frevola tried to sit up from the shot, but McKinney followed it with several hammerfists to finish the job. It is his fourth consecutive finish inside the first round.
The 26-year-old, who fights out of Spokane, Washington, just fought in the LFA promotion on June 4, prior to receiving an offer to fight at UFC 263.
The smoothest path to victory for Peterson would have been to keep the fight standing, since his opponent was a highly skilled grappler with a limited striking game. Instead, he spent much of the three rounds on the canvas with Hooper. He spent a significant part of that time delivering damage from the top, but in the end Peterson won by surviving Hooper’s strongest submission try.
Two of the judges gave all three rounds to Peterson, and the other scored the fight 29-28.
Peterson, a 31-year-old from Dallas, did some strong work on the feet but did most of his best work on the canvas, fending off a nonstop flow of Hooper’s submission attempts. Peterson has won two in a row after a two-fight skid.
Hooper, who is 21 and from Enumclaw, Washington, has lost two of his last three fights after starting his career unbeaten in his first 10 fights.
Despite the gritty win, Peterson did not cover himself in glory this weekend. He missed weight by 2½ pounds on Friday and had to surrender 20% of his purse to Hooper. And at the start of Round 3, Peterson feigned a glove touch but instead fired a big overhand right.
This drew a disparaging remark on the broadcast from analyst Paul Felder: “Dirty move, Joe.”
To which Joe Rogan replied, “Kind of what you’d expect from a guy who missed weight.”
Ziam lulled Vendramini to sleep for two rounds with his jab. In the third, Vendramini finally woke up, but it was not enough.
Ziam escaped with a majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28) victory in a bout that featured a wild momentum swing early in the third round. Ziam used his beautiful jab and his reach advantage to keep Vendramini at distance over the first 10 minutes. Vendramini turned it on in the third, landing big combinations on the feet, sending Ziam to the canvas and working for a submission from there.
It wasn’t the amount of dominance that led to a 10-8 from all three judges, though, which would have made it a draw. One judge did score the third 10-8 for Vendramini.
Ziam, 24, has won two straight after dropping his UFC debut in September 2019. The France native has won seven of eight. Vendramini, a 25-year-old Brazil native, has lost two of three in the UFC.
Felipe (11-1) picked up his third win in a row, and had himself a good time doing so.
Felipe, of Brazil, defeated Collier (12-5) via split decision in a three-round slugfest. In a heavyweight fight that never hit the floor, it was Felipe’s superior boxing and head movement that stood out. Two judges scored it 29-28 for Felipe, while a third had it 29-28 for Collier.
Greaaaaat way to start the night #ufc263
— Randy Costa (@RandyCosta135) June 12, 2021
A former middleweight, Collier, of Missouri, landed some good shots early on, and caused Felipe’s right eye to swell badly with punches. Collier started to tire in the second round, however, and struggled to deal with Felipe’s pressure. Nevertheless, he did land more overall punches than Felipe, but Felipe’s shots appeared to carry more weight.
Despite the swelling on his eye, Felipe taunted Collier at times, brushing punches off his shoulders and shuffling around the cage.
The victory improves Felipe’s record in the UFC 3-1. Collier is now 1-2 since moving to the heavyweight division last year.
Still to come:
Middleweight title fight: Israel Adesanya (c) (20-1, 9-1 UFC, -260) vs. Marvin Vettori (17-4-1, 8-2-1 UFC, +210)
Flyweight title fight: Deiveson Figueiredo (c) (20-1-1, 9-1-1 UFC, -220) vs. Brandon Moreno (18-5-2, 6-2-2 UFC, +180)
Welterweight (five rounds): Leon Edwards (18-3, 10-2 UFC, -550) vs. Nate Diaz (21-12, 15-10 UFC, +400)
Welterweight: Demian Maia (28-10, 20-9 UFC, +180) vs. Belal Muhammad (28-3 1 NC, 9-3 1 NC UFC, -220)
Light heavyweight: Paul Craig (14-4-1, 6-4-1 UFC, +240) vs. Jamahal Hill (8-0 1NC, 2-0 1 NC,-300)
Lightweight: Drew Dober (23-10 1 NC, 9-6 1 NC UFC, -150) vs. Brad Riddell (9-1, 3-0 UFC, +125)
(c) = defending champion