Israel Adesanya retained his UFC middleweight title after defeating Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision at UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona's Gila River Arena on Saturday.
Adesanya won 50-45 on all three judges' scorecards. He received a brief scare when Vettori tried to apply a rear-naked choke in Round 3, but Adesanya escaped and otherwise dominated the fight for all five rounds.
Adesanya had 96 significant strikes to Vettori's 58. Vettori did land four takedowns, however.
After the match, Adesanya stood alone atop the middleweight mountain once again, and it's clear that he's the king of the division. He said as much while making comments about top middleweight contender Robert Whittaker:
Adesanya moved to 21-1 for his career. He's undefeated at middleweight.
The Adesanya-Vettori fight was a rematch of the champ's split-decision victory over Vettori in April 2018.
That marked the only time Adesanya hasn't won by knockout or unanimous decision at middleweight. His only professional loss was to Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight belt.
The middleweight title fight was just one of five bouts on the main card and 14 overall (including preliminaries).
Here's a look at how the action-packed night went down, including recaps and highlights from the rest of the five-fight main card, which included the flyweight title changing hands.
- Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision, 50-45, 50-45, 50-45
- Brandon Moreno def. Deiveson Figueiredo via third-round submission, 2:26
- Leon Edwards def. Nate Diaz via unanimous decision, 49-46, 49-46, 49-46
- Belal Muhammad def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28
- Paul Craig def. Jamahal Hill via first-round TKO at 1:59
- Brad Riddell def. Drew Dober via unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
- Eryk Anders def. Darren Stewart via unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-27, 29-27
- Lauren Murphy def. Joanne Calderwood via split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28
- Movsar Evloev def. Hakeem Dawodu via unanimous decision, 29-27, 29-27, 29-27
- Pannie Kianzad def. Alexis Davis via unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
- Terrance McKinney def. Matt Frevola via first-round knockout at 0:07
- Steven Peterson def. Chase Hooper via unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
- Fares Ziam def. Luigi Vendramini via majority decision, 29-28, 29-28, 28-28
- Carlos Felipe def. James Collier via split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
Brandon Moreno became the first Mexican-born champion in UFC history after taking the flyweight title off Deiveson Figueiredo via a rear-naked choke in Round 3.
Moreno controlled this fight all the way and set the tone in Round 1, per ESPN's Brett Okamoto:
He nearly doubled the former champion's significant strike total (47-24) before applying the rear-naked choke in Round 3 to become the flyweight titleholder, cementing a long, uphill road to the top, as ESPN's Marc Raimondi noted:
ESPN's Ariel Helwani and Raimondi explained what Moreno's win might mean for his future as a face for the company:
Moreno and Figueiredo fought to a majority draw in December 2020, but this time, the 27-year-old Mexican left no doubt as to who the best flyweight fighter is today.
Moreno is now 19-5 with two draws. Figueiredo is 20-2-1.
Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz
Leon Edwards dominated Nate Diaz for four-plus rounds but needed to survive a furious finish from the challenger en route to a unanimous-decision win.
Edwards won four of five rounds on all three judges' scorecards, but Diaz nearly took matters into his own hands:
Diaz took a serious beating throughout the fight, withstanding some ferocious blows from the No. 3 welterweight contender.
Edwards also took down Diaz four times.
The 29-year-old is now 19-3 professionally with one no-contest lifetime. He has gone unbeaten in his last 10 fights.
The 36-year-old Diaz, who made his return to the Octagon after 19 months, fell to 20-13.
Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill
Paul Craig defeated Jamahal Hill by first-round TKO at 1:59 to extend his unbeaten streak to five matches.
Hill suffered a gruesome arm injury following a Craig armbar but kept fighting anyway. The referee eventually stopped the fight after a few moments, and ESPN's Ariel Helwani pondered why the official didn't stop the fight sooner.
The Scottish fighter provided comments afterward:
Craig is now 15-4-1 as a professional. He's gone 4-0-1 in his last five fights.
Hill lost his first professional bout and now sits at 8-1 with one no-contest.
Belal Muhammad vs. Demian Maia
Belal Muhammad defeated Demian Maia via unanimous decision on the second fight of the main card.
Maia kept the pressure up in the early going and won that round according to two judges:
However, it was all Muhammad in the final two rounds. Per UFC Stats, he had 40 significant strikes to Muhammad's 19 over Rounds 2 and 3 as he cruised to the unanimous-decision win.
Muhammad also defended 20 of 21 takedowns, and boxing trainer/analyst Teddy Atlas shouted out the victor's efforts.
ESPN's Brett Okamoto tweeted about the 43-year-old Maia's UFC future afterward:
Brett Okamoto @bokamotoESPN
Belal Muhammad defeats Demian Maia via unanimous decision. That was the final fight on Maia's UFC contract. He told me this week he was open to fighting again and re-signing with the UFC if he won. Seems likely that was the final time we'll see him in Octagon, but we'll see.
Shaun Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting gave credit to Muhammad's effort against the No. 9 welterweight contender:
Muhammad, 32, is now 19-3 with one no-contest. He's unbeaten in his last six fights. Maia is 28-11.