UFC 263 will take place Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz. Profitability efforts this week may be enhanced by the fact that the fine folks at the UFC have granted me press access so I may talk to the athletes firsthand as opposed to having to access their thoughts through the standard media channels. I’ll be able to watch the weigh-ins in person, which is vastly more insightful as periphery activities can also offer insight into a fighter and/or the fighter’s camp.
My UFC 263 final releases will be completed Friday night or Saturday early morning. They’ll then be delivered to the outstanding editors of Point Spread Weekly for publication to readers.
Last week, Santiago Ponzinibbio + 100 won by unanimous decision (+ 150) earning readers 2.5 units. He actually closed a + 140 underdog, so hopefully most were patient and benefited. Jair Rozenstruik knocked out Augusto Sakai late in the first round, which earned another unit of profit.
To date Insight the Octagon: 16-9, + 8.45 units
ISRAEL ADESANYA (-240) VS. MARVIN VETTORI (+ 200)
Middleweight (185 pounds) Championship
This is a rematch of an April 2018 bout in which Adesanya, then in his second UFC fight, beat Vettori by split decision. That was a very competitive three-round fight, one in which Vettori began to successfully take Adesanya down and display some control late in that bout.
Vettori, ranked third in the division, has won five straight bouts leading into this championship tussle. His opponents, while worthy, are not to be mistaken for elite middleweight talent, however. While Vettori is a better version of himself today then he was then, I am not convinced that he’s improved or added any real offensive/defensive dimension to his game.
Vettori is nicknamed “Angry Marvin” appropriately as he brings an aggressive, bar-room-brawling stand-up style to his fights. His footwork and movement are choppy, forcing him to rely on his power and belligerent forward pressure as opposed to any fluidity of movement or defensive evasiveness.
Vettori’s wrestling and grappling seem to be the key to this fight. I cannot envision a five-round stand-up fight between these two in which Vettori would have a chance.
Vettori must pressure Adesanya, press him backward and force him to expend energy so that dragging him to the floor is easier to accomplish. Vettori should, and likely will, mimic the Jan Blachowicz plan of wrestling control against Adesanya. From the ground, Vettori will try to rain damage on Issy from top position.
Adesanya enters this fight off a March loss to Blachowicz, which in my handicapping is an advantage for him. While Vettori is the most “Blachowicz-type” styled fighter in the middleweight division, he’s in no way as large, heavy or strong as Blachowicz was in that bout. Therefore, Vettori will offer little in pressure, size or physicality that Adesanya hasn’t already dealt with against Blachowicz.
Adesanya, the middleweight champ, has a 7-1 record since his loss to Vettori, and though he’s off that loss, his middleweight wins came against the absolute elite of the division then and now. Adesanya has refined his precision striking and deft movement with more power and the realization that he must address his takedown defense. I believe Issy’s last bout against Blachowicz ends up being most helpful in preparing Adesanya for the style of fight he’ll face against Vettori.
If this fight stays standing, Adesanya will paint “Angry Marvin’s” fence black and blue. If Vettori can manage to grind on Adesanya and force him to expend energy fighting off the wrestling pressure, then Vettori has a chance.
I handicap a class difference between these athletes and have a difficult time believing Vettori has anything other than a “Sunday punch” chance to earn this title.
Use as Leg II of the open-ended parlay with Jack Hermannson -155: pays + 1.33 if Adesanya wins
Total in this fight: 4.5, Over -140
DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO (-240) VS. BRANDON MORENO (+ 200) FIGUEIREDO
Flyweight (125 pounds) Championship
This is a rematch of a December 2020 fight in which Moreno was on his way to a clear advantage when Figueiredo landed a flush “south of the border shot” that was so bad that Moreno was dry-heaving in the octagon.
That low blow allowed Figueiredo time to recover and overcome the deduction in points he incurred from that action to save his title by the draw decision.
Figueiredo, a black belt in BJJ is a huge man for the division and even larger come the night of the bout. Figueiredo is lightning fast, ultra aggressive and profusely powerful. Fists, elbows, knees and head kicks are all available weapons, so count on him attempting to use all of that weaponry to finish Moreno. On the feet or on the floor, Figueiredo is equipped to destroy.
Moreno won’t sneak up on Figueiredo this time, and for the record I don’t think he surprised Figueiredo in that first bout. I think he surprised those in the MMA world that were unaware of Moreno’s abilities.
Figueiredo knows he’s in for an all-out war Saturday, and how he has balanced being champion against preparing for this rematch the last six months is the key to this outcome. Any lack of focus during training or the night of the fight may cost Figueiredo.
Moreno is the taller fighter by two inches, he’s six years younger than the champ and he’ll own a two-inch arm reach advantage. Figueiredo has fought 10 times since 2017 and in all but one of those matchups, he’s been the taller, longer, larger fighter. Moreno’s physical attributes coupled with his style of fighting put him in position to again challenge Figueiredo and take him deep into this bout to test his heart and more importantly … his conditioning.
Moreno, a Mexican fighter is an accumulation striker who damages opponents over the course of time with high pace and striking volume. He does not have Figueiredo’s power, but he is athletic, well-rounded and he’s been in the octagon with the top flyweight fighters in the world. Then there’s Moreno’s personality. Most fighters are a little “off,” but in Moreno’s case he has the look of a guy who may not care if you crack him on the noggin or not! This makes him mighty dangerous.
The weigh-ins for this bout are critical because Figueiredo has had trouble on the scale. I’m looking for any hint of that Friday when I watch these men hit the scale.
If Figueiredo makes weight easily, I’ll be forced to handicap this bout knowing that I give Moreno every chance in the world to defeat the champion albeit a champion fully prepared to defend his title, which is daunting.
If Figueiredo struggles before or while he’s on the scale, I’ll use that information in order to immediately gain every advantage on Moreno. I do suspect that Figueiredo’s fight preparation may well have been interrupted once or twice by championship distractions during these last six months, while I know that all Moreno has done since these two last fought is work to become the first UFC champion of Mexico.
One last note. This fight is in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, where the population of Latino Americans is high. They’ll be in attendance Saturday passionately supporting Moreno the fighter from just the other side of the Mexican border.
Lean Moreno, pending weigh-ins, of course!
Total for this fight: 4.5 rounds, Under -130
Weigh-ins may also have input on how I handicap this total.
DREW DOBER (-145) VS. BRAD RIDDELL (+ 125)
Lightweight (155 pounds)
There’s one word for this fight, and it’s WAR.
Riddell’s a striking coach at City Kickboxing in New Zealand. He’s fast, precise and a lethal striker/kicker. He’s also underappreciated. He takes on Dober, who fights with Justin Gaethje at Team Elevation in Denver. Dober is no stranger to stand-up striking, and he has a decent wrestling base, which will allow him to hold the advantage over Riddell should Dober decide to take this fight to the ground for an easier path to victory.
If Riddell can keep this bout standing, I not only feel he’ll have some advantage over Dober, I believe he’ll beat him.
Patience as this price is steadily rising …
Total for this fight: 2.5 rounds, Over 150