Israel Adesanya won unanimous decision in a rematch against Marvin Vettori to defend his middleweight championship at UFC 263
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Israel Adesanya won unanimous decision in a rematch against Marvin Vettori to defend his middleweight championship at UFC 263 on Saturday night.
Adesanya (21-1) remained out of reach of Vettori’s powerful punches for much of the night and used his legs effectively to keep the Italian fighter off balance.
While trying to add a second title belt, Adesanya lost to Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blakowicz in his last fight, but remained undefeated as middleweight.
In the co-main event, flyweight Brandon Moreno (19-5-2) became the first Mexican-born champion in UFC history, using a rear naked choke in the third round in a rematch against Diveson Figueredo (20-2-1). did. .
Two title fights in the desert were tainted with bad blood.
Adesanya and Vettori had fought at Glendale three years earlier, Adesanya’s split-decision victory that satisfied neither fighter.
Vettori believed he had won, Adesanya thought it was too close and the creation of the rematch was controversial, including an off-the-rails news conference on Thursday.
Vettori (17-4-1), as he did in the first fight, had some success on the ground in the rematch after a few takedowns. Adesania stumbled free and was dominant with his feet, dodging most of his big punches and crippling the Italian’s front leg.
Adesanya was out with another takedown and continued to work Vettori off his feet to defend his title.
Figueredo and Moreno fought in December, a draw that placed the title belt in Figueredo’s corner and negated Moreno’s bid to become the UFC’s first Mexican-born champion.
Like Adesanya and Vettori, the two flyweights verbally lashed out at each other in the lead up to the fight, with the intense Figueredo doing his best to get under the skin of happy-go-lucky Moreno.
Moreno, the No. 1 flyweight contender, went past Brazil from the start in the rematch, stunning them with a big shot in the first round. He reversed a takedown in the second round and forced Figueredo to submit in the third with a choke in 2 1/2 minutes, echoing the roar.
Figueredo put the bad blood aside after the fight, hugging and raising the emotional Moreno to the delight of the crowd.
Charismatic welterweight Nate Diaz – he lit a joint at a pre-fight news conference – returned to the Octagon after a nearly two-year absence and was a huge crowd favorite, yet a big underdog by the odds against third-place Leon Edwards. .
Edwards (19-3) showed why early on, in the first non-title, five-round fight in UFC history, Diaz opened up one wound above his left eye and the other bleeding to the side of his head.
The 36-year-old from Stockton, Calif. still had a lot of fighting — and showmanship — left in him, giving Edwards a big drop in the fifth to get the crowd off their feet.
The Englishman managed to avoid Diaz (21-13) in the last minute and won by unanimous decision, positioning himself for a possible title shot against Kamaru Usman. Faced with an uncertain future, Diaz invites everyone in the arena to a party at his house after the fight.
Light heavyweight Paul Craig broke Jamahal Hill’s arm in the first round and opened the main card, winning a TKO when Hill could not defend himself with a blow to the head.
Welterweight Belal Muhammad made a unanimous decision on Damien Maia.
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