June 16, 2021

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UFC 263 predictions — Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori: Fight card, expert picks, odds, prelims

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Satruday’s UFC 263 promises a loaded night of action. The card includes a pair of title fights in the headline spots, with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya putting his belt up for grabs in a rematch with Marvin Vettori and flyweight champ Deiveson Figueiredo defending against Brandon Moreno in a rematch of one of the best fights of 2020.

Vettori was Adesanya’s second opponent in the UFC, battling to a split decision win in April 2018. As Adesanya rose to champion, and a place as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, Vettori never stopped calling for a rematch. He finally earned his shot after a five-fight winning streak, not suffering a defeat since the loss to Adesanya.

Figueiredo and Moreno stepped up on less than a month’s notice to serve as the headliners at UFC 256 this past December. Both had won their fights at UFC 255 when the UFC came calling. They responded with what UFC president Dana White called the greatest fight in flyweight history. Figueiredo retained his belt when the two battled to a majority draw, a result driven when Figueiredo was deducted a point for a low blow.

In addition to the title fights, Leon Edwards will meet Nate Diaz in a welterweight clash. Despite being a non-title fight outside of a main event slot, the fight is scheduled for five rounds. The winner will be right in the mix for a shot at welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including a complete preview of UFC 263.

With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 263 fight card, odds

Odds via William Hill Sportsbook

  • Israel Adesanya (c) -260 vs. Marvin Vettori +210, middleweight championship
  • Deiveson Figueiredo (c) -220 vs. Brandon Moreno +180, flyweight championship
  • Leon Edwards -550 vs. Nate Diaz +400, welterweight
  • Belal Muhammad -220 vs. Demian Maia +180, welterweight
  • Jamahal Hill -300 vs. Paul Craig +240, light heavyweight
  • Drew Dober -150 vs. Brad Riddell +125, lightweight
  • Eryk Anders -150 vs. Darren Stewart +125, light heavyweight
  • Joanne Calderwood -140 vs. Lauren Murphy +120, women’s flyweight
  • Movsar Evloev -240 vs. Hakeem Dawodu +200, featherweight
  • Pannie Kianzad -200 vs. Alexis Davis +170, women’s bantamweight
  • Matt Frevola vs. Terrance McKinney, lightweight
  • Sijara Eubanks vs. Priscila Cachoeira, women’s bantamweight
  • Steven Peterson -120 vs. Chase Hooper +100, featherweight
  • Fares Ziam -135 vs. Luigi Vendramini +115, lightweight
  • Carlos Felipe -175 vs. Jake Collier +150, heavyweight

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).

UFC 263 picks, predictions

Adesanya (c) vs. Vettori Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya Adesanya
Figueiredo (c) vs. Moreno Figueiredo Moreno Figueiredo Moreno Figueiredo
Edwards vs. Diaz Edwards Edwards Edwards Edwards Diaz
Muhammad vs. Maia Maia Muhammad Muhammad Muhammad Muhammad
Craig vs. Hill Craig Craig Hill Hill Hill
Records to date (2021) 20-9 17-12 20-9 19-10 18-11

Campbell on why Adesanya will win: The level at which Vettori actually had success against Adesanya during their 2018 meeting — coincidentally, held at the same arena — has been largely overblown by both Vettori and the impact of the one judge who scored it in his favor. Although Vettori was finally able to take Adesanya to the ground in Round 3, he was largely ineffective and was eventually stood up by the referee. The majority of the bout saw Adesanya outpoint his foe in a kickboxing match from close range. Although Vettori was successful to a degree with his lead punches, it was his durability that largely made the fight feel more competitive than it actually was. With much to prove following a failed attempt at the 205-pound title, expect Adesanya to be as sharp as ever in dealing with Vettori’s pressure en route to a late stoppage.

Brookhouse on why Adesanya will win: I truly believe that Vettori could win this fight if he can manage to really ugly things up. Campbell is correct that the first fight has taken on legacy that is detached from reality. Vettori had some success, he did not have great success. That said, he has gotten consistently better while Jan Blachowicz laid out something of a blueprint for beating Adesanya. Much of what allowed Blachowicz to be so successful was his size and power. Vettori may be a big, strong middleweight, but he’s not a Blachowicz level threat that will give Adesanya the same hesitation to open up the attack. Vettori winning wouldn’t shock me, but Adesanya should be able to pick Vettori apart and possibly get a mid-fight stoppage.

Campbell on why Figueiredo will win: For as great as the first meeting between these two truly was in December when they co-authored five rounds of fury, there’s an argument to be made that Moreno caught Figueiredo at the perfect time. Headlining his second consecutive UFC pay-per-view in three weeks’ time and entering his fourth appearance overall for the calendar year, Figueiredo was running on fumes while completing his bid for fighter of the year. The champion was also docked a key point for a low blow in Round 3 that played a huge role in making the fight a majority draw. Given seven months to retool his body and mind, Figueiredo should be able to correct his mistakes from the first fight by pacing himself a bit better as the bigger striker and submission threat. 

Brookhouse on why Moreno will win: Moreno’s tenacity was the biggest thing that troubled Figueiredo in the first fight. Figueiredo spent a year truly thrashing his opponents, but he seemed to get frustrated as Moreno took his shots and kept firing back. Figueiredo’s fouls didn’t seem accidental so much as a product of that frustration. Moreno also seemed to be figuring Figueiredo out as the rounds ticked by. I like Moreno to be able to build off the information he gathered in the first fight and make adjustments to take advantage of his high pace and shut down just enough of Figueiredo’s aggression to score a narrow victory.

Campbell on why Edwards will win: The 36-year-old Diaz is taking some kind of a risk by signing up to fight the one welterweight in Edwards, who is riding an eight-fight win streak, that very few have gone out of their way to seek. Could a victory lead Diaz to an unlikely final run at a 170-pound title shot? That appears to be the reward to justify the challenge. In a rare five-round bout that isn’t a main event, Diaz will get his chance in what has to be looked at as an uphill battle. Edwards is too sharp, quick and calculated to succumb to Diaz’s mind games and counter striking. He has also been saddled with enough bad luck to build a chip on his shoulder that Edwards will be looking to unload. While Diaz is a fighter who tends to get better as the fight goes on, he’s also prone to cuts and is there to be hit against elite strikers. This feels like Edwards’ time to shine. Finally.

Brian Campbell
2021-06-11 15:04:19

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