UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Staff Predictions

UFC 263 is taking place this Saturday, and we will see two world title fights and three five-round bouts on this stacked lineup! To help prepare you for the big event, some of our staff members have provided their picks for the main card!

The main event will see Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori both seeking their own shade of redemption, with Adesanya looking to bounce back from the first loss of his MMA career and Vettori looking to avenge his most recent career loss, which came at the hands of his opponent here in the UFC 263 headliner.

The co-main event will see another rematch, with exciting flyweight competitors Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno vying to prove who is the better man once and for all after their majority draw at UFC 256. Their first clash was a candidate for Fight of the Year. Will the sequel outdo the original?

And who can forget the first-ever five-round fight that is neither a title bout nor a main event when superstar Nate Diaz returns from a near-two-year layoff to face the streaking Leon Edwards in what some consider to be the people’s main event? 

UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 PPV Main Card

  • UFC Middleweight Championship Bout: Israel Adesanya(c) vs. Marvin Vettori
  • UFC Flyweight Championship Bout: Deiveson Figueiredo(c) vs. Brandon Moreno
  • Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz
  • Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad
  • Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill

UFC 263: Adesanya vs. Vettori 2 Predictions

MMA News is the place to be for all the latest UFC 263 updates. Staff members Andrew Ravens, Ed Carbajal, Doug Murray, and Harvey Leonard have provided predictions for the card, which you can find below.

Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill

Paul Craig, Jamahal Hill

Andrew Ravens: Craig has been a fun watch and always a tough guy throughout his UFC tenure. We still don’t know much about Hill, but he’s definitely promising. I think due to the fact that Hill got past the true gatekeeper in OSP in his previous fight, I’ll side with him by third-round TKO. (Prediction: Jamahal Hill)

Ed Carbajal: Jamahal Hill spoke with MMANews about this fight and his focus heading into UFC 263. He spoke to a few other outlets, too, and at this level, not suffering a loss means you’re really good. Craig feels the advantage for him could be on the ground, but given Hill’s finish rate via strikes, he may not let it get there. (Prediction: Jamahal Hill)

Doug Murray: Paul Craig can be tricky to pin down. At times, he can win fights where it seems like he doesn’t have a viable path to victory, but his toughness and submission game are his strengths for sure. But he’s facing an unbeaten fighter with a lot of steam behind him. Hill is on a nine-fight win streak and has serious power in his hands. After his statement win against OSP last December combined with his activity, I think Hill will have the tools to overwhelm Scotland’s Craig on the feet after a feeling-out process. (Prediction: Jamahal Hill)

Harvey Leonard: This is perhaps the most underrated matchup on the card, and it’s not easy to call. Craig is a beast, and Hill looks like a future star. Despite looking impressive recently, Craig has been fighting some of the older guard. I think against a younger and hungrier opponent like Hill, we will likely see “Bearjew” defeated for the first time in five fights. But if he can find a takedown early and keep the unbeaten 30-year-old down, a decision victory for Craig isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. (Prediction: Jamahal Hill)

Consensus: 4-0 Hill

Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad

Belal Muhammad, Demian Maia

Andrew Ravens: Here’s a tough pick to make, as you could make the case that Maia will be fired up after getting shut down by Gilbert Burns in his past fight while Belal has been on fire aside from a no-contest thanks to Leon Edwards poking him in the eye in his past fight. I’ll take the youth in Belal getting it done unless he can’t stop the takedowns. Either way, it’s going all 15 minutes. (Prediction: Belal Muhammad)

Ed Carbajal: Maia is the old dog with a trick everyone knows is coming but somehow can never stop it. Muhammad is a solid welterweight contender that came up short in his last fight when a scary eye injury happened. He can certainly pull off a finish against Maia, but if he gets dragged into the deep waters of the ground, Maia can drown him. (Prediction: Demian Maia)

Doug Murray: A very intriguing fight. While Muhammad is likely more polished while standing, there is a huge discrepancy in grappling skills compared with the Brazilian legend he is facing. I think at a younger age, Maia’s trips and top pressure would be too much for Muhammad. However, with Maia being 43 years old, that’s old enough to fade him for me, personally. Undoubtedly, he is a live dog here, but with Muhammad’s above-average takedown defense, this is his fight to win. (Prediction: Belal Muhammad)

Harvey Leonard: With Maia in the twilight of his career, it’s sad to effectively be predicting a loss that will signal the end of it. Of course, with his skills on the ground and lengthy submission tally, that path to victory is never out of the question. But Muhammad has been in the UFC since 2016 and has gained a lot of experience. It’s hard to see him getting caught. Muhammad has the pace and durability to grind out a decision and the power and finishing skills to end the fight early. Either way, I see “Remember the Name” joining the group of welterweight elites at UFC 263. (Prediction: Belal Muhammad)

Consensus: 3-1 Muhammad

Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz

Leon Edwards, Nate Diaz
Leon Edwards, Nate Diaz

Andrew Ravens:  Edwards wanted a big fight and he’s going to get it. There will be some who side with Diaz because of his name and past accomplishments. Thus, I may be in the minority, but I think Edwards walks away with this fight with ease. Diaz has traded wins and loses as of late while Edwards should’ve extended his eight-fight winning streak if it wasn’t for an eye poke causing a no-contest. I’ll take Edwards by decision. (Prediction: Leon Edwards)

Ed Carbajal: This five-round fight for no title seems to be trending. Rightfully so with fan-favorite Nate Diaz in the cage, regardless of the depth of fandom anyone is in when it comes to MMA and the UFC. Still, he cuts easy and does not mind being taken down and fighting off his back. As much as it pains me, I have to go with Edwards likely by stoppage due to a cut or decision. (Prediction: Leon Edwards)

Doug Murray: The people’s main event, the unheard-of five-round non-title fight that’s not even the co-main event. Although we all know this will be fireworks, with the two fighters preferring to strike, this fight is predictable in my eyes. Unless COVID-19 has degraded Leon Edwards’ cardio in a massive way, his striking is crisper and he has better head movement and mobility. Overall, I see Edwards piecing Diaz up similar to the Jorge Masvidal fight but with fewer kicks thrown. (Prediction: Leon Edwards)

Harvey Leonard:  I think this one is fairly straightforward. Diaz is a warrior and has beaten the odds before, but I just can’t see a way for him to beat Edwards. I think the idea that he somehow defeats “Rocky” and goes on to face Kamaru Usman is as close to fantasy as you can get. I see this fight playing out in a similar fashion as Diaz’s meeting with Jorge Masvidal in 2019. Edwards’ striking is polished, sharp, technical, and quick. It will prove too much for the gritty Stockton native. (Prediction: Leon Edwards)

Consensus: 4-0 Edwards

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno

Deiveson Figueiredo, Brandon Moreno
Deiveson Figueiredo & Brandon Moreno

Andrew Ravens: Moreno gave the champ the most difficult challenge that he has had in his title reign thus far, and their rematch will be no different. Their first fight went to a draw, and some thought Moreno did enough to win while others didn’t. So, this is perfect to run it back and decide who is better. I still have a hard time going against Figueiredo, so I’ll take him by decision. (Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo)

Ed Carbajal: For me, this fight is the main event. It’s the rematch of a fight that was a draw the first time, making this a fight that requires repeating and requires viewing. Both men put it all on the line the first time around, and the same will likely happen at UFC 263. However, history has shown something always plagues Figueiredo on fight week. Even after the last fight, he said he had some health issues he fought through to get to fight night. I think Moreno pulls it off this time. (Prediction: Brandon Moreno)

Doug Murray: The five-round war with Moreno last December revealed a lot, specifically, the strength and timing of Moreno’s takedowns. At the same time, the champion Figueiredo continued to land his right hand at will. I believe the champion will shore up his takedown defense and have a better understanding of the types of strikes that Moreno will be throwing on fight night. Since Figueiredo can be so unpredictable, he’s more difficult to develop a firm game plan for. (Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo)

Harvey Leonard: Although, like most, I scored their first fight as a draw, it’s clear that without the point deduction Figueiredo would have taken the fight 48-47. The question is: Can Moreno offer something extra this time to edge ahead of the Brazilian? I don’t think so.

Figueiredo had the edge on power and pressure in the opening contest and, given the fact I think he stands to gain more from both having a full training camp for the rematch, I can’t see that changing. (Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo)

Consensus: 3-1 Figueiredo

Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori

Marvin Vettori, Israel Adesanya
Marvin Vettori, Israel Adesanya

Andrew Ravens: Some people may bring up their first fight, and I don’t consider that at all despite it going to a split decision. That was before Izzy became champion and Vettori turned a corner in his career. Since that fight, Vettori has won five straight. I can easily see Vettori giving Izzy a challenge, and it will be a close fight going the distance, but I don’t see Vettori dethroning him. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Ed Carbajal: Adesanya is coming off of a loss from his attempt at trying to go up in weight. Being the martial artist that he is, he likely learned a lesson in that loss. Plus, he’s faced Vettori before. Vettori can certainly use the blueprint Jan Błachowicz laid out for him to hand Adesanya another loss, but it’s unlikely Adesanya will make the same mistakes in his own weight class. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Doug Murray: A rematch three years in the making, but this one is especially tough to call now because of Adesanya’s recent loss to light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. While some believe the Polish champion exposed Adesanya and put forth a viable game plan to beat “The Last Stylebender,” the jury is still out.

Essentially, the idea is that if he is taken down in the middle of the cage versus against the fence, then the middleweight champion will have little or no answers. However, I think Adesanya’s first pro MMA loss lit a fire under him. I think he will enter the fight measured and reserved and pour it on as the fight goes into the later rounds. Adesanya understands that he will need to stay fresh for the wrestling exchanges that Vettori will surely force early on. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Harvey Leonard: This one is harder to call than I think it should be. Since they last fought, Adesanya has beaten the best in the division. Meanwhile, Vettori has been on a tear against some fairly mid-tier names. But the Italian’s confidence is hard to look past, and he will no doubt fancy his chances should he put the champ on his back.

However, in an Octagon larger than the Apex, I think Adesanya has a strong chance of avoiding Vettori’s attempts to initiate grappling and, given the ease he’s beaten virtually every top contender, I believe he’ll retain. I think a heavy dose of recency bias is pushing people away from “The Last Stylebender.” I predict he’ll silence many of them this weekend. (Prediction: Israel Adesanya)

Consensus: 4-0 Adesanya

That’ll do it for the UFC 263 predictions. Do you agree with the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC 263 during fight night!

UFC 263 Undercard

Preliminary Card

  • Brad Riddell vs. Drew Dober
  • Darren Stewart vs. Eryk Anders 
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Lauren Murphy
  • Hakeem Dawodu vs. Movsar Evloev

Early Preliminary Card

  • Alexis Davis vs. Pannie Kianzad
  • Matt Frevola vs. Terrance McKinney
  • Chase Hooper vs. Steven Peterson
  • Luigi Vendramini vs. Fares Ziam
  • Jake Collier vs. Carlos Felipe

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