Bet of the Card: (2u) Marvin Vettori via Decision or Submission @ +333 (to Return 8.666 Units)
Main Event – UFC Middleweight (185lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 12:45 a.m. EST.
- Despite Vettori’s aggressive forward pressure, he still boasts the best significant striking defense amongst active middleweights (66.2%), edging out Israel Adesanya, who sits second (65.2%) (per StatsLeaders.UFC.com).
- In their first meeting, all three judges awarded Vettori the 3rd round (per MMADecisions.com), as he was the stronger fighter late on, a fact that bodes well for the Italian in their 5 round rematch.
It’s always daunting betting on a fighter to avenge a loss, especially as a decent sized underdog, but that’s exactly why I’m taking the shot here on Vettori.
Their first fight was a close 3 round affair, and although Adesanya rightfully got the nod on the scorecards (pictured below), his performance wasn’t exactly reflective of his -250 price tag (per Tapology.com). Now, it’s been over 3 years since that encounter, and both fighters have unquestionably progressed, but fundamentally, this still has all the makings to be an extremely close fight.
Since then, Adesanya has done a lot of work to improve his takedown defense and ground game, whereas Vettori has further rounded out his entire skillset, whilst improving his conditioning, volume, and game planning. That’s not to say that Vettori has gone through more progression, but that Adesanya already had the striking to become a world champ, he just needed to focus on his grappling. And that Vettori, had to elevate his entire game, as he was having issues with the fringe top-15 middleweights at the time.
I think the five rounds favors Vettori; he’s shown in both his most recent fights that he’s capable of going a hard 25-minutes, and that could be a massive advantage in this bout. Adesanya has shown us that he likes to have his opponents stand in front of him, either marching him down steadily, or rushing in recklessly with no real intentions of mixing it up. We’ve seen this a few times, most notably when he scored knockouts over Robert Whittaker (pictured below) and Paulo Costa. What he doesn’t respond well to, however, is when his opponents look to force a very slow distance striking match, or when they put a pace on him with forward motion, with the aim of trying to clinch him up and take him down. The latter we saw from Kelvin Gastelum, and at times, Jan Blachowicz, both of which gave him his toughest fights.
Vettori should, and almost certainly will come into Saturday night with his mission being to march forward and turn this into a dog fight. The threat of his grappling is his biggest key to victory, and unlike many of Adesanya’s former foe, he’s savvy enough to use it when it’s to his advantage. His perpetual forward motion could give Adesanya opportunities to work his striking off his back foot and catch him moving in, but Vettori’s tough as hell, and it’s entirely possible that he just may barrel his way through it.
The fight will likely be uncomfortable to watch at times with Vettori moving forward and Adesanya often out-manoeuvring him, but it’s important to note that Vettori could be landing the greater number of strikes, and one takedown per round, could instantly claim rounds in his favor, should Adesanya be stuck on his back for any length of time.
All-in-all, this has the makings to be a close fight yet again. Adesanya may land the cleaner and more calculated shots, but because of Vettori’s volume, takedowns, and generally dogged fighting style, he could easily turn this into a back-and-forth fight, with him coming out on top due to pure attrition. I see it unlikely Vettori (pictured below) KO’s Adesanya, even on the mat, so it makes more sense for me to play him to win via decision or submission (+333), over his moneyline (+230).
(1u) Brandon Moreno Moneyline @ +194 (to Return 2.94 Units)
Co-Main Event – UFC Flyweight (125lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: Midnight EST.
- Their first fight was a closely contested draw, exactly 6 months ago, yet Brandon Moreno is the near 2-to-1 underdog for what again should be another competitive fight.
- Deiveson Figueiredo is 6 years Moreno’s senior, and although he’s not approaching the end of his career at 33 years of age (per Tapology.com), it’s fair to say that we should expect the more significant developments fight-to-fight, from the younger fighter who’s just going into his prime.
I’d challenge anyone to go rewatch Figueiredo vs. Moreno 1 and make the case that Figueiredo should be this big of a favorite in the rematch.
I know there were some claims that Figueiredo was ill the night before the first fight, and that he could have been drained due to him fighting and cutting weight twice in two weeks, but these are hard to substantiate, and the latter is also directly applicable to Moreno. A counter point I’d like to make, is that Figueiredo is such a unique specimen for a flyweight, and even though Moreno can be tricky and unorthodox, the late notice nature of their first bout, would have been more unfavorable for Moreno (pictured below).
Enough of the hypotheticals though, the rematch is here, and I’m taking Brandon Moreno. He looked incredible last time, and I think with the extra preparation and added confidence of going 25 minutes with the champ before, I think he can level up his performance and get the job done this time around. Credit needs to be given to Figueiredo for keeping up the pace that he did in December, especially if he was actually ill, but I’m still not completely sold on his gas tank. He’s proved it to me once now that he can go for 5 rounds, but I feel like I need to see it one more time to really believe.
The finishing upside in this one, does of course side with Figueredo, 17 of his 20 wins have come via stoppage for a reason, and his power and submission skills have to be respected (pictured below: Figueredo submitting Joseph Benavides). That said, Moreno is as tough as they come and has an excellent ground game, with both of these holding up to Figueredo’s offense at the end of last year.
(1u) Paul Craig Moneyline @ +250 (to Return 3.5 Units)
(1u) Paul Craig via Submission @ +600 (to Return 7 Units)
Main Card – Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 10:15 p.m. EST.
- Paul Craig averages an impressive 2.11 takedowns landed per 15 minutes, whereas Jamahal Hill yields a takedown defense percentage of just 53%, having given up a whopping 6 takedowns in his fight against Darko Stosic (per UFCStats.com).
- All of Craig’s 14 wins have come inside the distance (2 KO/TKO, 12 Submissions) (per Tapology.com)
The public perception of Paul Craig (pictured above) has always been pretty low. Initially, most believed he wasn’t UFC calibre, he then submitted the UFC’s hottest light heavyweight prospect, Magomed Ankalaev, albeit from a Hail Mary triangle choke. People then said it was a fluke and he’d be out of the organisation in the near future, and he recently climbed into the rankings following an 3-0-1 run. I’m not saying Paul Craig is a world beater, and some people’s questions of him are partially justified, but he is still seriously undervalued for his skillset and game planning.
He’s tall (6'3"), fairly rangy, has ever improving wrestling and striking, and his x-factor is his unbelievably slick submission game. He has shown a tendency to get hurt and put away in fights before, but with his striking tightening up, he looks better than he ever has, and that’s only going to facilitate his best path to victory, his ground game.
Jamahal Hill is an interesting rising up-and-comer. His height (6'4") and reach (79.0") makes him a tough outing for most in the division, but his precise volume striking is what really sets him apart. He has landed on average 7.9 significant strikes per minute across his 4 combined UFC/DWCS fights, which is obscenely high, whilst only absorbing 3.15 per min. If he can maintain this against high level fighters, that will be a sight to be scene, and if so, it’s going to enable him to go very far in this division. Hill’s downside, however, is his grappling. We’ve seen him get taken down at will by Darko Stosic, who is a notably strong fighter, but not an out-and-out grappler, nor someone who has proven his wrestling against the best-of-the-best. In that fight, Hill showed us that he can work his way back to his feet, but against an opponent who can keep him down on the mat, such as Craig, it’s easy to see how he could be overwhelmed, and even finished.
Hill will have the advantage on the feet, I expect him to pose a lot of problems for Craig there, but if he can’t put him away in the first few minutes, I’d expect Craig to start looking for takedowns and tie-ups, anything to get Hill out of his element. Hill may be able to stop one or two, but I find it hard to believe that he would have improved his wrestling enough to stop them all. Then, once on the mat, Craig should be able to weigh-heavy and slice through Hill’s guard with ease. Depending upon the time left in the round, he may be able to snatch up a submission, or win minutes on the clock, potentially stealing the round.
I think the only way Hill justifies his large moneyline price, is if he can stop almost all of Craig’s takedowns and piece-him-up on the feet decisively, or if he puts him out in the first round with minimal effort. Outside of that, it’s hard to deny that Craig offers up decent value at his over 2-to-1 price tag, with his significant edge in the grappling. For this reason, I’m making a play on Craig’s moneyline, and him via submission, as I see him getting the finish, but he does have paths to a wrestling-heavy decision victory, so it’s a nice spot to hedge, just in case.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 / UFC 263: Edwards vs. Diaz / #UFC263
Location & Venue: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona, United States
Date: Saturday, June 12th, 2021
Start time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims 8 p.m. EST, Early Prelims 6 p.m. EST
Where to watch: Main Card on PPV, Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+, Early Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+
UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Full Fight Card Predictions
UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Main Event Prediction
Middleweight (185lbs): Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori – Vettori via Decision
UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Main Card Predictions
Flyweight (125lbs): Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno – Moreno via Decision
Welterweight (170lbs): Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz – Edwards via KO/TKO
Welterweight (170lbs): Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad – Muhammad via Decision
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill – Craig via Submission
UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Prelim Card Predictions
Lightweight (155lbs): Drew Dober vs. Brad Riddell – Riddell via Decision
Light Heavyweight (205lbs): Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart – Stewart via Decision
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Lauren Murphy vs. Joanne Calderwood – Calderwood via Decision
Featherweight (145lbs): Movsar Evloev vs. Hakeem Dawodu – Evloev via Decision
UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Early Prelim Card Predictions
(W) Bantamweight (135lbs): Pannie Kianzad vs. Alexis Davis – Kianzad via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Matt Frevola vs. Frank Camacho – Frevola via KO/TKO
Featherweight (145lbs): Chase Hooper vs. Steven Peterson – Peterson via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Fares Ziam vs. Luigi Vendramini – Vendramini via Submission
Heavyweight (265lbs): Carlos Felipe vs. Jake Collier – Felipe via Decision
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.