When one UFC champion dominates a division long enough, they eventually have to face a tough decision: move up or down a weight class or defend their belt against somebody they’ve already beaten.
A third UFC fighter option, not as commonly taken, comes from a draw or no contest. In some cases, a draw in a title fight can weigh heavier on the defending champion than the challenger, as many trolls on social media tend to be less forgiving when it comes to a champion not winning.
As the year of the rematch reaches its midway point, we are treated to a double dose this weekend when UFC 263 goes down this Saturday inside the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
In the main event, middleweight champion “The Last Stylebender” Israel Adesanya (20-1) will face off against “The Italian Dream” Marvin Vettori (17-4-1) in the same building where their first fight took place back in April 2018. When these two first met inside the Octagon, Izzy was coming off his first UFC fight in which he earned a Performance of the Night bonus for his TKO victory. On the other hand, Vettori was coming off a draw and a respectable 2-1-1 start to his UFC career.
Although both men continued on different paths, Vettori began calling out Adesanya for a rematch as he stacked each victory. Initially, Adesanya had no intentions of giving Vettori a chance at his belt and instead went the double division route, challenging Jan Bacchic for the light heavyweight championship. Having suffered his first loss, Adesanya decided to put the weight class change on hold, and his future may now depend on what happens this UFC Saturday night. Vettori will also change his future as he tries to move from rising star to division champion.
UFC weekend: Figueiredo vs. Moreno
Before highlighting the main event, though, we’ll see a rematch between Deiveson “Deus da Guerra” Figueiredo (20-1-1) and “The Baby Assassin” Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) for the UFC flyweight championship.
Things in 2020 went relatively well career-wise for current champion Figueiredo who fought and won four times, with three of those fights coming in the second half of the year, including a successful title shot. Things were going so well, in fact, that after defending his belt at UFC 255 November, he turned around to face Moreno on just three weeks’ notice. Normally this would start to lay the foundation for a potential loss, but Brandon Moreno fought on the same card, fighting just three minutes longer, and would also be dealing with a quick turnaround. The first meeting between the two definitely lived up to the hype and was awarded Fight of the Night. Everything was going according to plan for Figueiredo up until a groin strike in the third round resulted in a point being taken away.
That point turned out to have a huge impact on the fight as two of the judges scored the fight even at 47-47, resulting in a majority draw. Having gone through a full fight camp this time, both men are healthy and prepared to go to war once again, hoping to walk away with UFC gold around their waist.
Not to be left out, after being forced off of the UFC 262 card, Nate Diaz (20-12) makes his return to the Octagon after a year and a half away. Welcoming him back is #3 ranked welterweight Leon “Rocky” Edwards (18-3-1), who is basically coming off a long layoff himself. Edwards was away for nearly a year and a half himself before having his fight with Belal Muhammed called a no-contest due to an accidental eye poke that left Muhammed unable to continue. Two guys who seemingly have a chip on their shoulder look to take out one another and get one step closer to a title shot.