Israel Adesanya is preferred to win his middleweight title fight with Marvin Vettori in UFC 263. | Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images
Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s predictions and picks for UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori. Have you been a believer in the Bloody Elbow curse? You knowthe one where we all pick one fighter and they lose? Well is UFC 263 the card to check out that degree of cursedness! We all think Israel Adesanya will beat Marvin Vettori in the middleweight title main event, likewise Deiveson Figueiredo over Brandon Moreno within their flyweight title rematch, ditto for Leon Edwards in his five-rounder with Nate Diaz. Let’s see how populous we could make this cardor if it gets raised on Saturday night!
Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori
Anton Tabuena: Both men improved considerably since their first meeting in 2018, but I think it’s still likely to get exactly the identical outcome. I believe Vettori can make the bout nasty and control Adesanya by the fence to prevent and decrease the amount of striking exchanges, but I still don’t think that wins him the fight, particularly going five rounds. It may not end up as the very entertaining competition, but I believe Adesanya will have the ability to shield takedowns really well for the most part, and I think he will also be overly slick on the feet. I can see him grabbing Vettori eventually as takedown attempts and clinch entries become more desperate, but I’m going to select Israel Adesanya by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Vettori will surely draw out of his own success against Adesanya in the initial battle and be emboldened a bit by how readily Big Jan controlled Izzy on the mat. It could be replicable to some extent however I also believe part of Adesanya’s problems with Jan boil down to strength and size. At 185 and since that first Vettori fight Adesanya was close to impossible to takedown and exude any kind of meaningful control period. If this stays the exact same then I feel like Vettori could land a few strikes on Adesanya but consume a lot more in return. Vettori is hard as nails so I do not think we will see a KO but Vettori’s recent problems evaporating in the later rounds do not bode well against the champ. Israel Adesanya by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Just from sheer toughness and consistency, Vettori has a good shot to issue Adesanya. He could eat big shots, push ahead, and also make Adesanya cover his inclination to escape position defensively on the back foot. Something Gastelum did very well in their struggle, but Whittaker couldn’t handle at all in theirs. The difficulty for Vettori, however, is that given that a pretty straight forward arsenal of 1s and 2s, he is just not much of a finisher at all. Even if he could go 5 rounds using the’Last Stylebender’ I don’t find that as a set of exchanges that Vettori will get the better of. Wrestling is a fantastic option to change all that up. But Vettori’s first shots tend to be focused on pushing opponents to the weapon, and chaining out there. And Adesanya together with his back to the fence is practically impossible to take down. Israel Adesanya by decision.
David Castillo: The first struggle was a fantastic example of tone as much as style manufacturing fights. Vettori set a specific tone, and the consequent tone took away Adesanya’s weapons. For a Moment. And now here we are, waiting to see whether Jeremy Horn can upset Chuck. I like a good deal of what Vettori can perform, especially in this matchup, but I never watched the first fight close as much as aggressive in spots where you’d expect the reverse to be true. Vettori overachieved around the feet, but he also ended up losing enough exchanges to be forced into plan B. I don’t anticipate either plans to get the job done. Israel Adesanya by Decision.
Staff picking Adesanya: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Lewis, Harry, Zane, David, PhilStaff picking Vettori:
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
Anton Tabuena: It’s a rematch from an extremely close proximity, where both ought to be very familiar with what each other attracts, therefore I think it’s just more logical to pick the stronger finisher. It should be fun and entertaining either way, however I think Figuereido only has more avenues to victory, while Moreno might have to go through another grueling 25 moments, and survive those bombs to win the belt. Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: If Moreno can have any sustained success taking Figueiredo down and receiving time-consuming top control he has a real shot. Hell we saw him land plenty of fresh strikes on Figueiredo but much like Moreno, Figueiredo’s chin is ridiculously good. It’s just hard to ignore how much more offensively potent Figueiredo is compared to everybody else in flyweight, along with his body work will be instrumental. In addition, I suspect that with a complete camp and proper time to prepare he will be better at energy direction than he had been last time. Moreno is a live dog but the pick is Deiveson Figueiredo by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: The course of this first fight were that while Moreno can definitely take Figueiredo’s power, Figueiredo can also take Moreno’s speed. Moreno revealed some very slight, but constant grappling advantages as well in their first fight. Mostly because of the fact that Figueiredo is prepared to provide up takedowns in the knowledge he could scramble through them. Both guys are incredibly tough, so I doubt we are heading for all sorts of finish. So if Figueiredo can property larger and better and maintain pace with Moreno, I must select him to win. He will definitely walk into a huge shots and takedowns from Moreno, but unless the’Assassin Baby’ can either tie him up for significant amounts of time, or actually put him away, I just see a lot of good offense coming out of the champ in each round. Deiveson Figueiredo via decision.
David Castillo: As great as the first battle was, I really felt as though Fig wore on Moreno. The only round which made me believe Moreno could be a true threat was the second round, which saw Moreno combination in more takedowns, and more body work with his power hands. Without that, Moreno is still kind of at the mercy of Figueiredo’s energy, and the way that dictated the pace of the first battle. Moreno was at his best trying to transition with grappling (it’s what preceded his big fourth round drive ), but with no better defense, he was unable to do it consistently. Therefore, I think Figueiredo when he says that he can’t make this fight shorter. You are my carnal Brandon, however sorry. Deieveson Figueiredo by TKO, round 5.
Staff picking Figueiredo: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry, Lewis, Zane, David, PhilStaff picking Moreno:
Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz
Anton Tabuena: This is really interesting to me, since Edwards seems to be the specific kind of ninja competition that Diaz has ever wanted, especially in a five round battle. He may be a large, accurate welterweight, but he doesn’t (normally) rely on wrestling and physicality into ragdoll and overwhelm opponents with strength. He’s a slick striker that (normally) prefers to use distance and technique rather than just relying on KO capability to brutalize opponents early. He (normally) prefers body kicks to leg kicks. And he (normally) isn’t an explosive fast starter, and will get in a groove as the fight progresses. That is what Diaz has always asked for, but I believe Edwards is simply so far better and more specialized in those regions, that if he didn’t change things up and basically played to Diaz’s strengths, he would still be the preferred. He also of course has all the abilities to adjust and make things easier on him to pick apart Diaz’s predictable strategy. Given all of that, can Diaz still inflict his will like he did with Pettis and Cerrone? Can he stress Edwards to the fence, make him brawl on his own terms and slowly break down him? Could he pull off another huge McGregor-like upset and prove he is still elite at 36? I rather doubt it, but since it’s Diaz, I’m still intrigued and actually excited about seeing it unfold. Leon Edwards by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Other than the air of Nate Diaz, what compels one to select him against any top competitor at 170? Edwards’ output tends to wane in later rounds in five-rounders but I can’t make a serious argument that Diaz is in his prime. Edwards’ jab, low kicks, body kicks, elbows, and his wrestling can give Diaz fits. He is just a much better fighter and I’d be amazed if Nate created this aggressive. Leon Edwards by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Edwards really should win this. The sole kink in the gears is his inclination to like to coast once he believes he’s in control. And the fact that this is 5 rounds, perhaps giving Diaz multiple chances to rally while Edwards. But, between a rock solid wrestling game, and quite a slick power hitting match from range, there’s a lot of chance for’Rocky’ to do exactly what Ben Henderson did to Diaz back in… 2012??? Jesus that has been a long time ago. The biggest red flag for me , honestly, is that Diaz has never looked like he’s indomitable cardio in his rear pocket . By the third round against Masvidal, he was absolutely huffing. If Edwards starts powerful, that’s even less reason to be confident at a late Diaz rally. Leon Edwards via TKO, around 4.
David Castillo: In a way this fight is perfect for Diaz, but also a nightmare. Perfect because if, for some odd reason, Edwards decides to do absolutely nothing, I can see where Diaz’ awkward raw output might be something he can dry edge his way into a judge’s decision with. But except for that stylistic note, Diaz isn’t that good anymore. He can take punches, and strut, but that’s kind of all he’s been doing lately. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong. But I kind of just hate this matchup. To help Edwards’ profile, it’s alright I guess, but it’s a very uninteresting struggle involving a welterweight who is no longer a contender with only a challenge to an imaginary belt for his title versus an elite contender. Well, and the Diaz name. Additionally, this is a struggle I can fully see being a complete bore to watch. Leon Edwards by Decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Diaz appears old, slow and shot, and some minutes of success recently have largely come via pure strength. As Zane mentioned, he does not even have good cardio by MMA standards any more, he just has toughness in spades. Edwards is in certain ways a style nightmare (a real welterweight, a low kicker, a counterpuncher, and possibly most importantly an extremely strong wrestler and clinch fighter). However, he is also someone without enormous dynamic threats who always lets his opponent into the fight in one way or another. So it seems like there is likely going to be a second for Diaz fans to cling on when Leon gets buzzed or gets into trouble in a scramble. Other than that, I think he simply works his way to a workmanlike decision which gets folks cross. Leon Edwards by unanimous conclusion.
Staff choosing Edwards: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry, Lewis, Zane, David, PhilStaff picking Diaz:
Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad
Anton Tabuena: I would not hesitate to pick Maia if this happened a couple of years ago, but now I’m just not so certain anymore. While losing to Burns is not anything to be ashamed of (along with a really bad game up), Maia is currently 43. He’s obviously not in the peak of his career, but if Belal voluntarily has exchanges with him on the floor, it might nevertheless be a competitive fight. Ah, f–k it, I went with my head on my main event select, so I’m going with my heart here. Demian Maia by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: It just takes you takedown to get Demian Maia to set you in trouble, but when he is ineffective with his takedowns early he will gas out and Muhammad will put a pace on him that he can not keep up . This just seems like a matchup Maia is not capable of winning at this phase of his profession. Muhammad gets the much better striking and he is hard to take or keep down. Belal Muhammad by unanimous conclusion.
Zane Simon: Three or four decades ago, I would absolutely have picked Maia, maybe only with some small hesitation. And, honestly, I rather still anticipate that Maia will have a really good first round. Muhammad is no kind of finisher and Maia still had great early victory against Gilbert Burns before getting sparked. The big issue is that given Muhammad’s own powerful grappling shield, and Maia’s inclination to need to grind his way into success as opposed to snatching up the instantaneous sub, it feels like a powerful start just will not be sufficient. If Maia begins to flag heading into the third and second rounds, then Muhammad will be right there pouring busy striking volume . Belal Muhammad via TKO, round 3.
Phil Mackenzie: This really feels like among many fights we’ve seen down years, in which the grappler has an obvious finishing advantage which is balanced by the other guy is a decent wrestler with a fantastic gas tank (Oleinik-Omielanczuk, Soto-Yahya, Covington-Maia). Meaning that Maia is basically going to need to sub Belal Remember The Name Muhammad inside the first three moments (not impossible! Belal Remember The Name Muhammad is not the world’s greatest anti-southpaw fighter, or quickest starter). Other than that he is definitely going to be getting buzzsawed. Belal Remember The Name Muhammad by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Maia: AntonStaff choosing Muhammad: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry, Lewis, Zane, David, Phil
Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill
Mookie Alexander: Craig’s gonna get lit up. Jamahal Hill from TKO, around 1.
Zane Simon: I have a lot less religion than Hill in his ability to grapple with Paul Craig if need be. And his takedown defense hasn’t even been tested since he gave up a half dozen to Darko Stosic. Therefore, when Craig gets in on his hips early, who knows what might happen. However, I’m gonna pick Hill’s speed, ability, and sprawl to maintain things standing just long enough for him to end the fight. Jamahal Hill through KO, around 1.
Staff choosing Craig:Staff choosing Hill: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry, Zane, David, Phil
Drew Dober vs. Brad Riddell
Mookie Alexander: I feel like a lot of this battle is dependent on Dober’s quickly begins and Riddell’s slow starts, as well as if Dober wants to wrestle. It has been a great while since he has been a willing wrestler and he is not been a dominant one whatsoever. Riddell has been paired up with nothing but opponents who have been spamming takedowns against him to small success. I’m selfishly hoping Dober doesn’t do this and we get a banger that the kickboxer Riddell advantages out in the end. Brad Riddell by unanimous conclusion.
Zane Simon: If I’m supposing that this will be a pretty pure kickboxing bout completed at the pocket book, standing, involving two iron-jawed, power punching juggernauts, I just kinda need to pick Riddell as the technical, creative fighter. The large mark in Dober’s favor is that he comes out firing on all cylinders and Riddell absolutely does not. Riddell has yet to out-work anybody in around 1 of some of his UFC bouts. If Dober can keep his output high enough, he can just beat Riddell at a footrace to the end. However, Riddell tends to have much much better as the battle goes on, so I’ll take him to begin putting things together after a rocky beginning. Brad Riddell via choice.
Phil Mackenzie: Close fight, Riddell has specialized advantages in defence and composure, Dober is just insanely tough and starts faster. I will pick for that, essentially. One of the funnier potential dynamics is that both of these guys are surprisingly willing offensive wrestlers without incredible takedown defense of the own. I’ll be especially entertained if Riddell gets into trouble in round 1 and then only outwrestles Dober for the remainder of the bout. Drew Dober by unanimous conclusion.
Staff picking Dober: Anton, Stephie, Dayne, Harry, PhilStaff picking Riddell: Mookie, Zane, David
Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart
Zane Simon: I chose Stewart’s power and occupied aggression to acquire this the first time around. Instead it looked like he really struggled with Anders’ dimensions and physicality at clinches and was in a pretty bad way at the time that prohibited knee landed and stopped the battle. If Anders can always nullify Stewart’s power moving ahead, he can push him on the back foot at which he is a whole lot less comfortable. Coupled with some greater quantity from Anders and I gotta take him for the win. Eryk Anders through TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: The last time Stewart got fouled and had to have a rematch, he didn’t seem great. He has been reliant on his strength and durability to bond him out, and Anders regrettably has both of these things, together with a size advantage. Eryk Anders by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Anders: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry, Zane, David, PhilStaff choosing Stewart:
Joanne Calderwood vs. Lauren Murphy
Anton Tabuena: They’re actually burying a title eliminator in the prelims, but then also say that Shevchenko does not have some worthy challengers to build up. Joanne Calderwood by Decision.
Zane Simon: This may likely be a brutally close battle coming down to how judges consider a few key moments of control plus a few questionably considerable volume striking. Lauren Murphy almost always has just one kind of fight. A busy, back and on boxing match where she gets a couple takedowns and/or gets pulled down a few times. She tends to be very difficult to control, however, so most competitions have to take care of her for the full 15. For Calderwood, her inconsistencies are a lot more glaring. Superior grapplers can tie her up and get her from the struggle with decent consistency. All told, but I simply don’t feel that Murphy supplies enough of an innate threat to Calderwood to prevent her otherwise enormous outpouring of volume striking. If Murphy is going to get her typical standup bout, then that leaves a lot of chance for Calderwood to simply put out a continuous flow of kisses and punches. Joanne Calderwood by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Both girls have had similar results: near, nip-tuck conclusions against Eye and Lee. My initial tendency is just to automatically prefer the former bantamweight to overpower the strawweight, but Calderwood’s range kicking game will definitely complicate matters against somebody as footslow as Murphy. Still, I think I’ll take Murphy to wade through it and remain in Calderwood’s face for a battle which will probably be close enough to have some dissenting scores. Lauren Murphy by split decision
Staff picking Calderwood: Anton, Harry, Zane, DavidStaff choosing Murphy: Stephie, Mookie, Dayne
Hakeem Dawodu vs. Movsar Evloev
Zane Simon: If Dawodu can show the wrestling shield to keep on his feet, then he will probably take advantage of precisely how finely and aggressively Evloev measures to the pocket over and over. Even Nik Lentz went hit for attack with Evloev within the initial two rounds of the bout. That is a big, big if, however. Dawodu’s takedown defense hasn’t been the highlight of his game, and he’s rarely, if ever had to confront a wrestler as absolutely tireless in his strategy and output as Evloev is. Movsar Evloev by choice.
Phil Mackenzie: Evloev has functioned as a good, jab-centric phase shifter and wrestler. What happens when someone can counter that jab? Unexpectedly, Dawodu had a serious trouble with the athletically underpowered Julio Arce in the pocket, and got bodylocked and taken down. Movsar Evloev by unanimous conclusion.
Staff choosing Dawodu: MookieStaff choosing Evloev: Anton, Stephie, Dayne, Harry, Zane, David, Phil
Remainder of the card
Pannie Kianzad vs. Alexis Davis
Staff picking Kianzad: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry, Zane, David, PhilStaff picking Davis:
Terence McKinney vs. Matt Frevola
Staff picking McKinney:Staff picking Frevola: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry, Zane, David, Phil
Luigi Vendramini vs. Fares Ziam
Staff picking Vendramini: Stephie, Mookie, Harry, Zane, David, PhilStaff picking Ziam: Anton, Dayne
Chase Hooper vs. Steven Peterson
Staff picking Hooper: Anton, Stephie, Harry, Zane, DavidStaff choosing Peterson: Mookie, Dayne, Phil
Jake Collier vs. Carlos Felipe
Staff picking Collier:Staff choosing Felipe: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Dayne, Harry, Zane, David, Phil