UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2021

UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

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    Josh Hedges/Getty Images

    Israel Adesanya returns to the middleweight division to face a familiar foe in the main event of a loaded UFC 263 card Saturday.

    In total, three fights are scheduled for five rounds, and each one could headline a card in its own right. The middleweight title clash is a great fight, but the UFC will also run back the war that took place between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno for the flyweight gold in December.

    Then there's the return of Nate Diaz. The younger Stockton brother is one of the biggest draws in the sport, and he will be making his return to the cage against a welterweight contender in Leon Edwards with a potential title shot on the line.

    Even though it won't be for the title or close out the show, it's been scheduled for five rounds.

    It's a can't-miss card that should provide quality high-stakes fights. Here's the entire fight card and schedule with predictions for the biggest fights.

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—June 12

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    Handout/Getty Images

    Main Card (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV)

    • Israel Adesanya (c) (-275) vs. Marvin Vettori (+215)—middleweight title fight
    • Deiveson Figueiredo (c) (-230) vs. Brandon Moreno (+185)—flyweight title fight
    • Leon Edwards (-560) vs. Nate Diaz (+400)—five-round fight
    • Demian Maia (+180) vs. Belal Muhammad (-230)
    • Paul Craig (+225) vs. Jamahal Hill (-286)

          

    Prelims (8 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+)

    • Drew Dober (-148) vs. Brad Riddell (+120)
    • Eryk Anders (-150) vs. Darren Stewart (+120)
    • Lauren Murphy (+120) vs. Joanne Calderwood (-152)
    • Movsar Evloev (-240) vs. Hakeem Dawodu (+188)

                 

    Early Prelims (6 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass)

    • Pannie Kianzad (-220) vs. Alexis Davis (+170)
    • Matt Frevola (-305) vs. Terrance McKinney (235)
    • Chase Hooper (-106) vs. Steven Peterson (-118)
    • Fares Ziam (-137) vs. Luigi Vendramini (+110)
    • Carlos Felipe (-177) vs. Jake Collier (+140)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Adesanya Shows Growth in Knockout Win over Vettori

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    Josh Hedges/Getty Images

    The main event is a great opportunity for Adesanya to remind everyone just how much he has improved since debuting in the UFC in 2018.

    The first time Vettori and Adesanya fought was in The Last Stylebender's second UFC fight. After knocking out Rob Wilkinson in his first fight, he drew Vettori, whose pressure and wrestling gave him one of his most competitive fights in the UFC to date.

    As it turns out, part of that had to do with Vettori's potential to climb the ladder. He hasn't lost since dropping the split decision and continues to improve in his own right.

    But Adesanya has made even more improvement. Vettori showed the blueprint to give him problems, but his takedown defense and systems of defense have grown since their first fight.

    That doesn't mean this one won't be competitive in spots. Vettori's durability and toughness mean he can hang in the pocket and pose a threat longer than most would.

    It also means he could trust that chin a little too much against a guy who will be looking to get back in the win column after the first loss of his career.

    Prediction: Adesanya via fourth-round TKO.

Figueiredo Reclaims Flyweight Dominance

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    The first fight between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo happened under unusual circumstances. Both fighters were coming off wins less than a month before they met to headline UFC 256, so they made the quickest turnaround in UFC championship history.

    When unusual circumstances arise, it's usually the underdog that has the advantage. Figueiredo has built a reputation as the top flyweight by knocking out or submitting his opponent in every title fight, save the draw with Moreno.

    Even in that fight, he would have won if he weren't docked a point for a low blow.

    Moreno should be given credit for turning in the performance of his career to date. He was a game opponent, and he can't be written off. He's 3-0-2 in his five UFC fights.

    But with a full camp, Figueiredo is more likely to finish the fight in his usual fashion.

    Prediction: Figueiredo via second-round TKO.

Edwards Uses Diaz to Raise Stock

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    Leon Edwards has often been the forgotten man in the welterweight division. He was on the receiving end of the infamous "three-piece and a soda" from Jorge Masvidal, which overshadowed the fact that he beat Gunnar Nelson that night to extend his winning streak to seven.

    Now, that winning streak sits at eight and would likely have been nine if his bout with Belal Muhammad hadn't ended in a no-contest.

    Still, Edwards isn't often mentioned with those who should be his peers in the 170-pound division.

    The pandemic cost him 2020, as he didn't fight for various reasons and multiple bouts were canceled. Now he gets a chance to make up for lost time against a huge draw in Nate Diaz.

    The Brit enters as a huge favorite for good reason. For all of his popularity, Diaz is only 4-5 in his past nine fights and has only fought twice since 2016. He's incredibly durable and will likely come into the fight in great shape, but he's done much more talking and selling fights than he has actually winning them.

    Edwards' striking is good enough to put Diaz in trouble. At this stage of his career, it's safe to wonder whether his chin is still the granite that it used to be.

    Prediction: Edwards via third-round TKO.

                     

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