UFC 283 Predictions: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Picks
UFC 283, the promotion's first pay-per-view of the year, goes down this Saturday in Rio de Janeiro—one of the most historically significant cities in MMA—and it looks like a great card.
In the main event, we will see Brazil's Glover Teixeira take on American Jamahal Hill for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title. The throne has been unoccupied since late 2022, when Jiri Prochazka stepped aside to recover from a serious shoulder injury. This will actually be the UFC's second attempt at crowning a new champion after Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev battled to a draw last month.
UFC 283 will be co-headlined by a flyweight title clash between undisputed champ Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil and interim champ Brandon Moreno of Mexico. It will be the fourth time the two stars have met. Their first fight ended with a draw, Moreno won the second by submission, and Figueiredo won the third by decision.
Earlier in the main card, former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns will take on the division's winningest fighter, Neil Magny.
Former strawweight champ Jessica Andrade will also be back on the pay-per-view. She's set for a flyweight fight with former title challenger Lauren Murphy.
The first fight of the main card, finally, will see Johnny Walker and Paul Craig collide at light heavyweight. The Brazilian and Scotsman are fringe contenders at best at the moment, but they're both among the most proficient and unpredictable finishers in the division, so it should be a fun fight.
Keep scrolling to see how the Bleacher Report combat sports squad sees these five UFC 283 main card fights going.
Glover Teixeira vs. Jamahal Hill
Tom Taylor: It's time for another attempt at crowning a light heavyweight champion. This time it's—sorry, just checking my notes—Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill fighting for the belt.
In all seriousness, this should be a fun fight for as long as it lasts. Teixeira is an excellent grappler with big punching power and staggering durability for an older fighter. Hill is a card-carrying member of the new generation and one of the division's best knockout artists. This one could end any number of ways, at any moment.
My bet is Teixeira survives an early scare or two, then flaunts that veteran craftiness and locks up a choke down the stretch.
Teixeira by submission, Rd. 3
Haris Kruskic: This fight just shows how much of a flux the light heavyweight division is in at the moment. With champion Prochazka recovering from shoulder surgery, No. 3-ranked Magomed Ankalaev and No. 4 Jan Blachowicz fighting to a draw last month, No. 5 Aleksandar Rakic recovering from a torn ACL, and No. 6 Anthony Smith getting demolished by Teixeira when they fought in 2020, the UFC had no choice but to turn to No. 7 Hill in a clash for the title.
It's partly because of that rushed route to a title fight that I'm taking Teixeira. I don't love the idea of picking a 43-year-old, but I'm also not convinced that Hill can successfully stop Teixeira from taking the fight to the ground. If his lone UFC loss against Paul Craig is anything to go on, Hill could be too inexperienced in that realm. Plus, Teixeira showed against Prochazka that his chin is still more than capable of taking a big punch.
Teixeira by submission, Rd. 2
Lyle Fitzsimmons: Funny, the older I get the more I find myself rooting for the old guys. And in this case, it doesn't feel like ridiculous sentiment. Teixeira has a few more miles on the treads, but he's consistently tough on the feet and dangerous on the mat. Says here it'll wind up horizontal and he'll win.
Teixeira by submission, Rd. 2
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno IV
Tom Taylor: Figueiredo and Moreno's first three fights were incredible, and the fourth might just be even better, as both men will be looking for a decisive win in what should be their final meeting.
It's really hard to say who wins it. Moreno's submission win in their second fight is hard to forget—that was the biggest moment of their saga so far—but Figueiredo nearly finished his rival with strikes in the most recent fight, which probably has more bearing here. The drama surrounding Moreno's former coach James Krause is also an interesting factor, in that it forced the interim champ to make new training arrangements and is probably a pretty significant distraction.
I'm not confident about it, but I'm going to say Figueiredo picks up the momentum he was building in the third fight, capitalizes upon the turmoil in Moreno's camp, and wins pretty clearly over five rounds.
Figueiredo by unanimous decision
Haris Kruskic: How do you even attempt to pick a winner for this fight? As we've seen from their previous three meetings, these guys are so evenly matched.
I'm going with Moreno for a weird reason: I like that he fought Kai Kara-France—someone other than Figueiredo—over the last two years. Different fighters give you different things to prepare for, and it was probably nice for him to step away from the long-lasting Figueiredo preparation to focus on someone else. The flyweight champion hasn't had that luxury.
Total shot in the dark.
Moreno by unanimous decision
Lyle Fitzsimmons: If you've got to have two guys fight four times, you're not making a bad pick with these two. Each fight has been compelling and competitive with moments of high drama. It's hard to imagine it won't be the same this time, though my feeling is that Figueiredo has figured Moreno out to some extent
Figueiredo by unanimous decision.
Gilbert Burns vs. Neil Magny
Tom Taylor: My last two predictions were a bit long-winded, so I'll try to keep this one brief. Magny is a tireless contender who is deserving of all the praise he gets, but pretty much every time he runs into a high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, he gets submitted. It happened against Demian Maia. It happened against Rafael dos Anjos. I'm guessing it will happen again against Burns, who is as good if not better than Maia and Dos Anjos on the mat, and a far more dangerous knockout threat. The Brazilian stings Magny on the feet, drags him to the canvas and chokes him.
Burns by submission, Rd. 2
Haris Kruskic: Burns comfortably wins this one because Magny doesn't do anything better than his opponent. That may sound harsh for a fighter who is also in the Top 15, but Burns is so versatile and steady on the feet and ground. Magny's endurance is highly praised and rightfully so, but I'm not sure that will matter much here.
Burns by submission, Rd. 2
Lyle Fitzsimmons: Not that long ago, Burns had won six straight fights and seemed like a real threat to win welterweight gold. Since then, he's lost two of three, and it seems as if his moment has passed. But this isn't Kamaru Usman or Khamzat Chimaev in front of him this time. It's Magny, and it's a comprehensively winnable fight.
Burns by unanimous decision
Jessica Andrade vs. Lauren Murphy
Tom Taylor: Here's another one I don't feel like I need to spend a lot of time on. At this point, former strawweight champion Andrade has proved she can beat anybody outside of the top two or three fighters at 115 pounds, and everybody outside the champion Valentina Shevchenko up at flyweight—that includes the former title challenger Murphy.
Andrade is a better striker and grappler than Murphy, is more athletic than the flyweight veteran, and despite being a natural strawweight, she should have a strength advantage, too. She wins however she wants.
Andrade by submission, Rd. 2
Haris Kruskic: I just can't see what a 39-year-old Lauren Murphy can bring to a fight against Jessica Andrade that would worry her. That may be cruel for someone who's won six of her last seven fights and whose only loss in that stretch was to Valentina Shevchenko, but none of her wins in that run came against the level of competition that Andrade has regularly beaten for years now.
Murphy has only been stopped once in her 21-fight career, but I think the Brazilian makes it a second time on Saturday night.
Andrade by TKO, Rd. 3
Lyle Fitzsimmons: Would it stun me if I woke up Sunday morning to find that "Lucky" Lauren had found a way to defeat an ex-champ? No. But while still wide awake in advance of the fight, I can't put together Murphy's winning scenario. Everything Murphy does, Andrade does better. That's why she'll win.
Andrade by unanimous decision
Paul Craig vs. Johnny Walker
Tom Taylor: This is the perfect fight to kick off the pay-per-view. Walker is a wild and unpredictable knockout artist with a bad habit of getting finished himself. Craig is an extremely dangerous grappler, but he often finds himself pushed to the brink of defeat before he locks up the sub. This is a classic blink-and-miss-it matchup. That makes it hard to make a confident prediction, but I'm going to go with Craig, because he has been more consistent than Walker overall. If he doesn't get knocked out by a flying knee or spinning elbow in the first 45 seconds, he should get the sub at some point.
Craig by submission, Rd. 3
Haris Kruskic: This is going to be a weird fight. I'm taking Johny Walker simply because he hasn't been submitted in over seven years. Craig's BJJ-heavy style has sacrificed his face for submission attempts in the past, and it's cost him. You can't do that against Walker and expect to come out of it in one piece.
Would I be surprised if Craig makes Walker tap? Not at all. It's just a lot easier and more common for Craig to get bludgeoned by an array of strikes while looking for a finish.
Walker by TKO, Rd. 1
Lyle Fitzsimmons: I'm also all-in on this one starting off the pay-per-view show or at the very least headlining the prelims. Because it's the kind of matchup that simply demands you pay attention. While I appreciate Walker's creativity and explosiveness, the Scotsman in me (and the fan of submission chasers) leans elsewhere.
Craig by submission, Rd. 3