Two title fights headline a monster UFC 263 card, as well as the Octagon return of Nate Diaz. Here are The Wolf’s UFC tips.
In a fight announcement that shocked most of the MMA community, Nate Diaz returns from an 18 month layoff to fight the 170lb divisions hottest prospect, Leon Edwards.
Diaz hasn’t been seen since fighting Jorge Masvidal for the BMF belt back at UFC 244. He was dominated from start to finish in that fight, taking an absurd amount of punishment on the feet before the doctor called a stop to proceedings at the end of the 3rd round.
Meanwhile, since losing to now champion Kamaru Usman back in 2015, Edwards has gone on a tear of the welterweight division. He is currently riding a nine fight undefeated streak, with his most recent outing resulting in a No Contest due to an accidental eye poke against Belal Muhammad (a fight that Edwards was very clearly winning).
It’s difficult to say what kind of shape Diaz will arrive in. We know he has cardio for days but a 3 round fight may play against him. He is a notoriously slow starter and usually gets better as the fight drags on. Edwards will come out of the gate swinging and realistically, he possesses a much more technical and quicker stand up game. Diaz has only been stopped a few times in his career and with the fight only lasting a maximum of 15 minutes, this one looks destined to go the distance, with Edwards having his hand raised at the end.
Marvin Vettori gave Israel Adesanya arguably the toughest fight of his career (until he met Jan Blachowicz) back in 2018 and they’ll run it back with the UFC Middleweight Championship on the line this time around.
Adesanya’s undefeated streak came to a screeching halt at UFC 259, coming up short in his quest to become an undefeated duel weight division champion. Light heavyweight champion Blachowicz was simply too big and strong for Israel, controlling the action on the mat and keeping him on his back for extended periods of time.
Since his loss to Adesanya, Vettori has quietly but effectively risen up the 185lb rankings, winning five in a row and taking out contenders Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland along the way. His grappling has cone along leaps and bounds in his last few fights, showing a vast array of takedowns and submissions skills in combination with his volume-heavy striking arsenal.
Both fighters have substantially improved since their initial meeting. Most importantly, ‘Izzy’ has elevated his ground game, becoming a purple belt in Brazilian JiuJitsu and while Vettori still holds the grappling advantage here, his newfound skills may allow him to get back to his feet a lot quicker than he has done so in the past. Vettori is as tough as they come, so The Wolf sees this going to the judges, with the incomparable Bruce Buffer announcing ‘and still…’ when it’s all said and done.
Although not the fighter he once was at age 43, Demian Maia will put on the gloves for a 32nd time in the UFC cage, taking on the aforementioned Belal Muhammad. The submission wizard is coming off a first round KO loss to welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns but he is certainly ‘coming down in class’ here against Muhammad. Previous to his loss to Burns, Maia had won three in a row with two coming by way of rear naked choke.
Muhammad on the other hand is coming off a No Contest with Leon Edwards due to an eye poke. In all honesty, that likely saved him as the way the fight was going, it appeared he was well on his way to a knockout loss. This is an important fight for Muhammad as his last fight against Edwards was easily the biggest of his career and a dominant win here will keep him relevant in the 170lb rankings.
This is a classic striker vs grappler fight and as is usually the case when Demian Maia fights, it comes down to whether he can secure that all important takedown or not. The Wolf believes that he can. Maia is one of the most gifted grapplers to grace the sport of MMA and despite not always being successful in his takedown attempts, Muhammad has an affinity for rushing in with a barrage of strikes. This should play perfectly into Maia’s hands, timing a single leg on the way in and working his way to the mat before tying up yet another win by choke.
Maia, Edwards and Adesanya all to win ($4.40)
MORE UFC TIPS
|Israel Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori||Adesanya by Points ($2.50)|
|Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno||Figueiredo by Points ($3.40)|
|Leon Edwards vs Nate Diaz||Edwards by Points ($2.25)|
|Belal Muhammad vs Demian Maia||Maia by Submission ($5.00)|
|Jamahal Hill vs Paul Craig||Hill by KO ($2.37)|
|Brad Riddell vs Drew Dober||Riddell to win ($2.20)|
|Darren Stewart vs Eryk Anders||Will Fight Go The Distance? – No ($2.05)|
|Joanne Calderwood vs Lauren Murphy||Calderwood by Points ($2.00)|
|Hakeem Dawodu vs Movsar Evloev||Evloev by Submission ($6.00)|
|Alexis Davis vs Pannie Kianzad||Kianzad by Points ($1.91)|
|Chase Hooper vs Steven Peterson||Hooper by Submission ($4.50)|
|Carlos Felipe vs Jake Collier||Feliper by Points ($2.50)|