Saturday’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.
UFC 263 fight card, odds
Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
Israel Adesanya (c) -260 vs. Marvin Vettori +210, middleweight championship
Deiveson Figueiredo (c) -190 vs. Brandon Moreno +160, flyweight championship
Leon Edwards -550 vs. Nate Diaz +400, welterweight
Belal Muhammad -220 vs. Demian Maia +180, welterweight
Jamahal Hill -270 vs. Paul Craig +220, 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 -220 vs. Terrance McKinney +180, lightweight
Steven Peterson -120 vs. Chase Hooper +100, featherweight
Fares Ziam -135 vs. Luigi Vendramini +115, lightweight
Carlos Felipe -175 vs. Jake Collier +150, heavyweight
Despite the relatively tough challenge Adesanya faced as Vettori ended up being the lone person to take a scorecard from him on his way to becoming the 185-pound champion, he is in need of a strong performance following his loss to Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title. A second straight loss could send the New Zealand native back to the drawing board with his team at City Kickboxing while a win for Vettori would crown the first Italian champion in UFC history.
The exciting pair faced each other back in April 2018 in an absorbing bout that could’ve gone either way but after three rounds, the verdict went in favour of Adesanya. The Nigerian is promising to win again.
“I’m gonna finish the job,” Adesanya predicted in an interview on Saturday. “Last time you had hope because one dumb judge gave you that f—ing fight when everyone else knows that you lost that fight. This time I’m going to make sure. You’re going to look at me and gonna realize it’s over. This is it. You can’t beat me.”
Adesanya and Vettori’s clash at Saturday’s U.F.C. 263 card is one of two rematches from tightly contested fights. The other is among flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and the challenger, Brandon Moreno, a repeat of a December 2020 battle that ended in a draw.
Nate Diaz, a fan favorite and U.F.C. veteran, also returns from a nearly two-year absence to fight Leon Edwards, a strong welterweight contender, in a five-round 170-pound bout. Normally, Edwards and Diaz would fight three rounds as an undercard fight without a title on the line. But both fighters wanted to fight five rounds, and for the first time in U.F.C. history, White allowed it.
U.F.C. 263 is the second recent event the company plans to operate in the United States without any coronavirus-related restrictions, such as masks, social distancing or capacity limits. Nearly two months ago, in Jacksonville, Fla., about 15,000 spectators watched Kamaru Usman defend his welterweight belt via knockout against Jorge Masvidal. For much of the pandemic, the championship has hosted events with limited or no fans at its complex in Las Vegas, where the U.F.C. is headquartered, as well as in Florida and in the United Arab Emirates.
After losing to Adesanya, Vettori won five consecutive fights to earn a shot at UFC glory for the first time. Like his opponent, Vettori plans on leaving no doubt this time around.