On Saturday night, the MMA leader returned for its first pay-per-view event of the year, UFC 283.
Not only did the UFC open its PPV schedule for 2023, but it did so with a return to Brazil, a nation that’s created some of mixed martial arts’ greatest fighters throughout the years.
And on a card that marked the first numbered event outside of the United States or Abu Dhabi since UFC 243, held in Australia back in 2019, the promotion brought some notable matchups and two championships with it to Rio de Janeiro.
In the main event, a name was finally attached to the vacant light heavyweight gold when local favorite and veteran former titleholder Glover Teixeira met the surging Jamahal Hill. Before that, Mexico’s first UFC champion Brandon Moreno hoped to dethrone Deiveson Figueiredo on the reigning flyweight king’s home soil, culminating their historical rivalry with a fourth chapter.
With prominent Brazilian natives like Gilbert Burns, Jéssica Andrade, Johnny Walker, and Shogun Rua in action, as well as rising prospects such as Jailton Almeida and the Bonfim brothers, the card promised to open the year with a memorable first PPV.
But did that come to fruition come fight night? Let’s find out with the positives and negatives from UFC 283.
Negative – Not Exactly Tupac…
If there’s one feeling you don’t want at the start of a card, it’s cringe. But it’s okay, because a promotion that hosts fights wouldn’t begin an event with a specially made rap song, right? RIGHT?
Sigh, it appears I overestimated somebody.
There’s a fine line when it comes to the creation of songs for a specific event. Get it right and you become a viral sensation like France’s Vegedream, whose song for his nation’s successful 2020 FIFA World Cup campaign, “Ramenez la coupe à la maison,” became a prominent association to the team.
Get it wrong and you leave much of an audience searching for the mute button. For me, the “UFC in Rio” song that opened Saturday’s event fell firmly on the side of, ‘Oh no, please no’.
I imagine the commission for the song must have been something like:
- ‘Mention the UFC is back in Rio de Janeiro’.
- ‘Note that it’s the first Brazilian card in three years’.
- ‘List some Brazilian legends’.
- ‘Run down the main UFC 283 bouts’.
The songwriter took that guidance and created a rap that, well, mentioned all of the above, multiple times, with not much else…
Evidently, I wasn’t alone in having a significantly different taste in music to the UFC…
Although, to give credit where credit is due, the package that aired at the start of the prelims, featuring a Brazilian boy writing to the UFC about its forced absence from the country, was certainly powerful.
Why don’t we leave the promotional packages and openings to the pros and not the rappers, eh?
Positive – Not Bad As Debuts Go…
Welcome to the list of nominees for the 2023 Knockout of the Year, Ismael Bonfim.
Terrance McKinney has gone full circle. In 2021, he provided one of the most emphatic UFC debuts of all time, sleeping Matt Frevola with a two-punch combination in just seven seconds. 19 months later, he was the victim of such an arrival.
Entering the event, “T. Wrecks” was perhaps one of the more notable names competing on the early prelims. But it was the newcomer who firmly stole the show, piecing McKinney up en route to a truly devastating second-round KO.
After backing the American up against the fence with some hard blows, one of which sent his mouthpiece to the canvas, the Brazilian sent McKinney in the same direction as his protective guard with a brutal jumping switch knee.
With that, Bonfim has got off to a winning start inside the Octagon, extending his win streak to 13 in the process. The 27-year-old is unbeaten since a loss to UFC mainstay Renato Moicano in 2014. Perhaps “Marreta” can work his way to a rematch with one of the division’s most entertaining names.
But post-fight, he wasn’t thinking about what’s next for him — he was looking ahead to his younger brother’s own debut performance, which came against Mounir Lazzez in the prelim opener.
Like Ismael, Gabriel Bonfim had his hand raised. While the older sibling took just over seven minutes to find his kill shot, 25-year-old Gabriel closed out proceedings in just 49 seconds, forcing Lazzez to tap to a mounted guillotine — eliminating any chance of the Tunisian praising a man accused of sanctioning murder as the leader of an organized crime group again, thank God.
If these brothers are set to continue sharing cards and trading sides on the ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ term, we’re in for a treat.
Positive – A Terrifying Newcomer To The HW Rankings
Entering the new year, Jailton Almeida had established himself as one of the UFC’s leading prospects. Perhaps the only hurdle denying him status as a fully fledged ‘future champion’ tag was the addition of a ranked heavyweight to his résumé.
Well, consider that box firmly ticked.
The moment came against Shamil Abdurakhimov in what was the pair’s third booking. When they did finally share the Octagon, the Brazilian brought a totally new meaning to ‘one-way traffic’.
While he may have been taken to a second round for the first time in his UFC career, Almeida’s victory over his Russian counterpart, who boasted around a 30-pound weight advantage, wasn’t any less dominant than his previous Octagon wins.
After doing damage in the opening frame, “Malhadinho” ground-and-pounded his way to a TKO midway through the fight. Frankly, the finish was inevitable and probably should have come sooner.
If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now — Almeida is on a fast route to the top.
With that, Almeida should find himself against a high-ranked name next time out. And with a possible run at light heavyweight in his back pocket, the future appears to be immensely bright for him.
Positive – 8 Days’ Notice? No Problem
As if the preliminary set of bouts hadn’t been violent enough at UFC 283, enter Brunno Ferreira.
8 days before the PPV, Gregory Rodrigues was anticipating a shot at earning a ranking having knocked out Julian Marquez and Chidi Njokuani in 2022. But with Brad Tavares’ withdrawal, “Robocop” found himself sharing the cage with a newcomer, and one who left him unconscious.
Throughout the opening round, Ferreira displayed a somewhat unique striking style, throwing heavy hook feints. The finishing shot ultimately came as a result of those, with “The Hulk” swaying both ways before landing a flush left straight down the middle.
To KO a man who’s eaten just about everything that could have been thrown at him during his UFC career was incredibly impressive, not least on just over one week’s notice. Way to make the most of an opportunity.
Negative – Sad, But Expected
Ihor Potieria dancing in front of a defeated Shogun Rua after stopping him with strikes wasn’t exactly the farewell anyone had in mind for the light heavyweight legend.
There were lots of negatives with Rua’s retirement fight, most of which were probably avoidable. The first is the pairing itself. It’s always puzzling when the promotion matches a clearly past-their-prime veteran with a young prospect. If they’re going to have one last fight, can we not at least do them the favor of a fellow vet?
Then comes the fight itself, which saw the Brazilian rocked with one of the first clean shots that landed. From there, he never recovered en route to a TKO defeat inside one round. That result was perhaps expected, but to see another legend go out in that fashion was certainly a bummer.
Capping off the disappointing watch was Potieria. I’m all for celebrating wins and showing emotion, especially after a crucial first victory inside the Octagon, but was there any need to bust out a seemingly pre-planned dance after retiring a 41-year-old legend? The Ukrainian’s explanation at the press conference made sense, with the dance representing a drawn-out show of respect. But realistically, was it ever going to come across as such?
For me, the answer is a pretty clear no. And the lack of a mention about Rua during his post-fight interview also seemed like an oversight. But hey, at least he remembered to ask for a picture before they exited the cage? Priorities…
Negative – An Unnecessary Beating
We really do have this conversation far too often.
At UFC 283, Lauren Murphy was outmatched and outskilled in every area of the game by Jéssica Andrade. That equaled 15 minutes of complete and utter dominance as well as a pretty disfigured face.
For me, the bout was done towards the end of the second round. In a perfect scenario, the corner calls it then and there. But for some reason, the topic of coaches protecting their fighters from certain defeat and further damage seemingly remains a stigma.
With that, “Lucky” returned for the third round, during which what limited defense she had left fell to zero and Andrade teed off. By that stage, the focus had firmly drifted from Andrade’s flawless performance to the uncomfortable viewing we were left with.
I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the logic behind favoring a further five minutes of domination and damage for a decision defeat over a stoppage loss.
At a time when CTE and brain trauma is becoming an increasingly talked about topic, there’s one glaringly obvious improvement that can be made — demonstrated by referee Osiris Maia and Murphy’s corner at UFC 283.
Positive – With Ease
He may not have secured a fight of the magnitude that he was after, but Gilbert Burns had his moment in front of the Brazilian crowd at UFC 283.
With a desired matchup against superstar Jorge Masvidal not coming to fruition, “Durinho” faced perennial contender Neil Magny. While the bout had less name value, I was expecting “The Haitian Sensation” to pose some problems.
Well, never mind.
In quick time, Burns breezed through Magny, taking him down with one of his first bursts of forward pressure and immediately working towards an arm-triangle choke. When it was locked in, the tap was rudimentary.
In the end, this bout felt like somewhat of a stopover en route to a grander matchup for Burns. And if that ends up being Masvidal or Colby Covington, then the Brazilian’s victory at UFC 283 was certainly a positive for fans and for the future of the division.
Negative – Anticlimactic
Whatever happened in the co-main event, it felt inevitable that something would leave the door open to a fifth fight between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno down the line. Ultimately, that came through the manner of victory — a doctor stoppage.
It’s worth noting that there was nothing controversial about the result. Moreno caught Figueiredo with a clean punch, and once the Brazilian’s eye swelled shut, the correct decision was made to stop the bout.
But nonetheless, it was certainly an anticlimactic way to conclude the tetralogy. And while the groundwork and story for a possible fifth fight now exists, it appears as though “Deus Da Guerra” will be fighting at bantamweight moving forward.
With that, the second reign of “The Assassin Baby” is underway. It’s just a shame that it had to begin with Brazilian fans throwing drinks and cans at him for a fair victory.
Positive – Teixeira.
I’ve gone back and forth on how to go with this one. The UFC 283 headliner certainly had its highs and lows, but ultimately, I think it’s only right to place focus on the defeated former champion.
Glover Teixeira’s overall life story is an inspirational one, and his MMA journey has followed suit. After a loss to Corey Anderson in 2018, not many were tipping the Brazilian for another run at the belt. Six fights later, he had the light heavyweight gold wrapped around his waist as the second-oldest first-time champ in UFC history.
And while he subsequently suffered two losses, the Brazilian went out on his shield with a Fight of the Year contender opposite Jiří Procházka and a hard-fought farewell in front of his home fans against Jamahal Hill.
The main positive here is the fact that Teixeira is going out close to the top and after a performance he can be proud of. In a day and age where veterans fight beyond their means, evidenced earlier in the night, it was fantastic to see a legend like Teixeira call time in the way he did.
One positive must also fall on the side of Hill for an incredibly impressive performance. “Sweet Dreams” backed up his confidence when it came to his ground game and largely dominated Teixeira through five rounds to win the gold.
It’s just a shame he felt the need to defend Dana White’s physical altercation with his wife just weeks ago…
To see one of the most respected and genuinely good-hearted individuals — often a tough find in mixed martial arts — leave the sport as another with a more checkered history of controversy rose to the top wasn’t ideal.
I’m not sure about you, but I like my champions with less domestic violence defense and support of Andrew Tate’s dangerous and ludicrous rhetoric. That doesn’t seem like the “classy individual” Jon Anik was attempting to paint post-fight.
If I choose to ignore that for a brief second, I can acknowledge that a Hill win is likely better for the division. The new champ hasn’t faced anyone inside the top five, meaning a number of fresh matchups await.
Moving forward, they don’t get more respectful in the light heavyweight division than the samurai-lifestyle-following Procházka, who’s promised to come back to reclaim what is his.
What were your positives and negatives from UFC 283?