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Adesanya prevails while Moreno makes UFC history

UFC 263 was an international affair with each victor on the main card representing a different nation.


A packed house from Gila River Arena in Phoenix, Arizona witnessed a new champion being crowned, while another continued his prolific reign.


Here’s a breakdown of the night’s main card.


Adesanya rolls in rematch with Vettori


It was a clean sweep performance for “The Last Stylebender,” Israel Adesanya (21-1).


He defeated the Italian Marvin Vettori (17-5-1) by unanimous decision, never losing a round on the cards.


The two first met in the octagon over three years ago, where Adesanya edged a split decision win.


This time around, Adesanya was the better fighter from start to finish, leaving zero doubt in the judges’ minds or scorecards.


Persistent sharp leg kicks stifled Vettori surely, but when he did throw punches, Adesanya was nearly impossible to catch.


Save for a rear naked choke in the third that was halfway to paydirt, Vettori never put Adesanya in real danger.


If we’re being critical of the champ, one could say none of his strikes were more effective than the leg kicks that kept Vettori at bay.


Nonetheless, Adesanya displayed great technique denying takedowns and wrestling off of his back.


That was a glaring weakness in the champ’s previous loss to light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.


Doing battle with the much larger opponent paid dividends as Izzy was much more adept when put in those positions again.


Up next, he set his sights on top contender Robert Whittaker (24-5), whom he beat to capture the title back in October 2019.


Whoever the opponent, wherever the location, it would certainly be a treat to see the Stylebender compete for a third time in 2021.


Brandon Moreno makes Mexico proud


Deiveson Figueiredo (20-2-1) is pound-for-pound one of the best fighters in the world today.


And that’s what makes Brandon Moreno’s (19-5-2) third-round submission victory so incredible.


From bell to bell Saturday night, Moreno was the better fighter, landing over twice as many strikes than his opponent and securing more takedowns for a sizable advantage in ground control.


Figueiredo cracked a smile after the first round, as if to acknowledge his opponent brought his A-game.


He looked a bit more comfortable in the second, but Moreno’s hunger for gold was on full display.


A body triangle spelled the end for the Brazilian who desperately fought off a rear-naked choke before succumbing to his opponent’s pressure.


It took a few minutes for Moreno to allow the feeling of victory to sink in.


That was a snapshot of how dedicated he was to achieving this moment; that even when the ref ended the fight, he was still locked in as though another opponent was going to appear.


But when it did sink in, he was overcome with emotion.


Greeted by his wife and daughter, Moreno delivered a passionate message to the fans in attendance, and his native country of Mexico.


Figueiredo was a class act in defeat, stating he will be ready to go again in at least four months time.


We’ll see if a trilogy is indeed in the future.


But Moreno will forever remember the night when he became the first ever Mexican-born UFC champion.


Leon Edwards survives a late scare from Nate Diaz


By all means, this was the fight that had the crowd's most vested interest.


The fan favorite, Nate Diaz (21-13), fell to England’s Leon Edwards (19-3) by a unanimous four-rounds-to-one decision.


In the loss, Diaz displayed the heart of a champion after being beaten and bloodied for four rounds by Edwards.


In the fifth, however, Diaz tapped into an energy reserve and landed his most significant strikes of the entire fight.


A right-left combination put Edwards on wobbly knees with just over a minute left, but the England native survived to secure the win.


Aside from that scare, Edwards was lights out yet again. He hasn’t suffered a loss now in almost six years.


His 20-month layoff ended in a no contest in his bout with Belal Muhammad after an inadvertent eye poke.


Prior to that moment in the fight he looked fantastic, and he did again tonight with arguably the most battle-tested man in the sport.


It was good to see Diaz, who’s appearances are now few and far between.


But this result was all about Edwards’ campaign for a welterweight title shot.


There are only a few logical challengers on deck for Edwards.


Either a long awaited matchup with Jorge Masvidal is in order, or he should be in line for the title after the champion Kamaru Usman and his rival Colby Covington have their rematch.


Muhammad neutralizes Maia for the win


Coming off the aforementioned no contest, Belal Muhammad (19-3) was eager to prove his status in the welterweight division.


A victory over top-10 contender Demian Maia (28-11) furthers his cause.


It was business as usual for Maia, looking to employ his astute jiu-jitsu by shooting for 21 takedowns.


Muhammad nearly posted a perfect game by thwarting all but one.


After a defensive round one, Muhammad landed consistently to finish the fight. He out-struck Maia heavily by a 92-23 margin.


After accepting his last fight on a four-week layover, expect the Palestinian to take to the octagon again very soon.


Paul Craig opens the show in stunning fashion


The shortest fight of the night may have left the biggest impression.


Light heavyweight Paul Craig (15-4-1) handed Jamahal Hill (8-1) his first professional loss by way of TKO.


Truthfully, it appeared that Hill submitted after attempting to fight through a severely dislocated arm.


Craig pulled guard early on and established a deep hook on Hill’s left arm.


Less than two minutes into the fight, Craig rolled into a brutal armbar, appearing to nearly snap Hill’s arm.


After the fight, Hill was completely unable to move his left arm and he sat in disbelief before being taken away to receive medical attention.


Disaster was averted for the up-and-comer as the medical team on hand put his arm back into place. He was extremely lucky to suffer no bone damage in the process.


This victory establishes Craig as a dangerous man in the 205-pound division and his future opponents must take that into account.


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