With a few title fights on the books and a dramatic late rise from fan favourite Nate Diaz in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday, it is time to take inventory of what we discovered at UFC 263.
Israel Adesanya defended his middleweight title for the third time and Brandon Moreno produced his defining second by capturing the 125-pound title in a rematch with Deiveson Figuereido.
In the meantime, Leon Edwards took a step nearer to preventing for the welterweight crown, however needed to undergo hell late in opposition to Diaz.
Listed below are the highest 5 takeaways from an unpredictable evening contained in the Octagon.
1. Israel Adesanya-Robert Whittaker II might be an on the spot basic
Together with his March loss to mild heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz now firmly within the rearview mirror, Adesanya reestablished each his dominance on the high of the middleweight division and his place alongside Kamaru Usman on the high of the pound-for-pound record. of sport. Adesanya relied on the timing and precision of his counterattacks to deal with Marvin Vettori’s ahead strain with relative ease of their rematch, which the champion claimed by way of a shutout choice on all three playing cards. The victory units up one other, albeit a lot larger, rematch within the type of Whittaker, the previous champion who misplaced by second spherical TKO to Adesanya in 2019. It may be argued that Whittaker was not at his finest in his first combat due to to the variety of accidents and psychological fatigue after a sequence of demanding defenses of the title. A powerful case is also made that Whittaker’s three choice wins, all in opposition to elite competitors, that adopted confirmed simply how developed his total sport has turn into. This rematch between these medium-sized stallions is nothing wanting an excellent combat within the oceanic area of Australia and New Zealand, the place each fighters reside. It might even be among the many finest fights the game may do and it may grow to be simply one other chapter of their rising rivalry.
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2. Moreno’s second of well-being is not going to quickly be forgotten
First, let’s keep in mind how shut UFC President Dana White gave the impression to be to doubling the promotion’s flyweight division after champion Demetrious Johnson was lastly ousted in 2018. Then if you keep in mind that Moreno, in 2018, I used to be amongst a 125 pound group. fighters that the promo minimize right into a transfer that appeared to seal the destiny of the division, you had the proper backdrop for an emotional scene. A Tijuana native, Moreno grew to become the primary Mexican-born UFC champion in promotional historical past, creating only a few dry eyes within the course of in close by Glendale, Arizona, by utterly dominating Figueiredo via third-round submission. of their rematch. The personable Moreno alternated between tears and humorous curses throughout his post-fight interview. Figueiredo even confirmed his enemy, seven months after they fought for an motion majority draw, the very best degree of respect by lifting Moreno as much as rejoice. The choice to maintain the division alive turned out to be a sensible one given the parity and enthusiasm amongst present title contenders. But it surely additionally produced an identifiable second about exhausting work and perseverance that was as pure as any second in UFC historical past.
three. Nate Diaz nearly stole the struggle, however misplaced the battle.
In a setting as “on the mark” as any Diaz fan may have requested for, the fickle antihero’s unlikely rally within the final minute of Spherical 5 whereas bloodied and crushed to almost cease Leon Edwards was the loudest theater doable. What he did not absolutely make up for, although, had been the baffling choices Diaz made previous to that, which included doing his finest to pursue the Edwards combat, requesting it to be 5 rounds, and actually ready till the final minute to go all out. . At 36, Diaz was one step behind Edwards on each flip and utterly dominated the ft and the bottom, together with a sequence of elbows in Spherical three that severely minimize Diaz above the left eye and on the facet of the pinnacle. . Whereas the combat will nearly definitely be finest remembered for Diaz’s near-miracle, there was greater than sufficient proof to cement that Diaz is not elite, even when his movie star and crowd-favorite standing is as sturdy as ever.
Four. Leon Edwards is a official contender for the welterweight title.
Regardless of Diaz’s late flurry, Edwards lastly secured the form of high-profile victory together with his spectacular unbeaten streak in 10 fights relationship again six years that he badly wanted. Regardless of a flurry of dangerous luck, accidents and even UFC bosses who didn’t help his bid for a 170-pound title shot, there ought to be nothing left for Edwards to do however sit again and watch for champion Kamaru Usman. Colby Covington, who was stopped by Usman in a five-round struggle two years in the past, will seemingly get a rematch in opposition to the champion first, largely as a result of White remains to be an enormous fan of that combat and expects a replay by way of savagery. drama it produced. However Edwards, for the little fanfare his successful streak has created, owns his personal story of potential redemption contemplating he hasn’t misplaced since a three-round choice to none apart from Usman of their 2015 assembly. For greater than 4 rounds on Saturday, Edwards was expert, environment friendly, and picked his spots completely by way of when to sit down on his pictures and make his presence felt. Contemplating Usman might be getting into his second straight rematch, there should not be something stopping Edwards from getting his shot.
5. The UFC light-weight division is repopulating very effectively
The sudden retirement of undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and the current slippages by perennial forces Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson over the previous yr appeared to threaten the depth of what may have been the deepest division within the UFC at any time in historical past. The action-packed preliminary primary occasion between Brad Liddell and Drew Dober was a superb reminder of how hungry the subsequent ready group actually is. Riddell posted a key late knockdown and improved to Four-Zero within the Octagon total in an exciting unanimous choice in opposition to the ever-playing Dober. Riddell, the product of New Zealand’s Metropolis Kickboxing who trains with gamers like Adesanya and featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, continued to solidify the concept that, at 29, he’s a future participant within the division.