UFC 263 is upon us. Saturday night’s pay-per-view (10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT, ESPN+ inside the United States, preorder today) will be the third such card from the UFC to originate from a traditional arena with a full audience since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic 15 months ago– this time inside Gila River Arena in Phoenix, AZ, home to the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, and the Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers, headlined by the UFC 263 main event– a battle for supremacy at 185 lbs. between incumbent champion Israel Adesanya (20-1) and No. 3 contender Marvin Vettori (17-4-1).
UFC 263 this Saturday night will feature 13 MMA bouts, barring any late postponements for any reason, and a five-fight main card, the last three of which will be five rounds at five minutes each.
Adesanya vs. Vettori II Comparison
The UFC 263 main event for the middleweight championship is a rematch for a bout that took place on April 14, 2018, during the UFC on FOX 29 main card in the very same arena where UFC 263 is taking place, a bout won (split decision) by Adesanya, one of 20 consecutive victories to start his career in MMA.
Coming into the UFC 263 main event on Saturday night, Israel Adesanya is the taller man at 6-foot-4, with Marvin Vettori standing six feet even.
In addition, Adesanya owns the reach (80 inches to 74 inches) and leg reach (44 1/2 inches to 41 inches even) advantages over Vettori heading into UFC 263’s main attraction this weekend.
Champion Adesanya has posted a 4-1 record in his last five UFC appearances, and prior to his last fight, a unanimous decision defeat to Jan Blachowicz during the UFC 259 headliner back in March for the latter’s UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, he had yet to lose in his MMA career.
Vettori enters the UFC 263 main event having posted a record of 5-0 in his last five fights, having scored a unanimous decision victory against Kevin Holland in UFC on ABC 2 back in April during that afternoon’s main event at the UFC Apex.
Holland took that bout on nine days’ notice after Vettori’s original opponent on April 10, Darren Till, withdrew because of a collarbone injury.
Adesanya Ready For Another Win vs. Vettori
Last weekend during UFC Vegas 28 on ESPN+, UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping led an explosive interview between Adesanya and Vettori ahead of the UFC 263 main event this Saturday night, with Adesanya recalling the memories of UFC on FOX 29 in April of 2018, saying:
“Last time, you had hope. You had hope because one dumb judge gave you that (expletive deleted) fight when everyone else knows you lost. I’m going to finish the job.”
Later on in that same interview, the champ added:
“You’re going to have zero hope. You’re going to have no hope after this fight. Just shut the (expletive deleted) up and listen. You hear, you might actually learn something. I’m going to give you zero hope, so when the fight’s done, you’re going to look at me and know that I am better than you. You have zero hope this time.”
Marvin Vettori was given a chance to respond to Adesanya’s comments, doing so with:
“Everybody believes in this guy’s hype and I’m here to derail it one more time, once and for all to settle the score. This is when it counts the most.”
In my opinion, Bisping couldn’t have delivered a more perfect summation of the UFC 263 main event in the pre-fight interview when he closed the segment with:
“If this is anything to go by, the fight is going to be incredible.”
Fighter Styles and Analysis: Adesanya: Knockout King
Israel Adesanya has been a decorated striker in MMA and kickboxing, which is self-explanatory from a statistical standpoint going into the UFC 263 main event this weekend.
He won 12 kickboxing matches by knockout and TKO before training and concentrating exclusively on MMA in 2017– a 21-fight career that has produced 16 knockouts, including 12 consecutive wins via knockout and TKO to begin this chapter of his career.
If Adesanya is to win the UFC 263 main event on Saturday night, it would behoove him to keep this bout on the feet, something he had trouble doing against Jan Blachowicz back in March.
That night, Blachowicz dumped Adesanya three times during the main event.
Will Vettori’s Grappling Give Adesanya Fits?
Takedowns are going to be a main focus of Adesanya’s game plan on Saturday night vs. Vettori in the UFC 263 main event.
Vettori, a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, has won nine times by submission, most frequently by rear-naked choke (four times) going into UFC 263’s main event.
If Vettori is to come away with the victory on Saturday night and become the first-ever UFC champion from Italy, he has to shoot for takedowns and advance on them to get himself in a good position to lock in a submission hold.
However, should Adesanya stuff multiple takedown attempts, the UFC 263 main event will prove to be a long night for the challenger this Saturday.
Prediction: Israel Adesanya by Unanimous Decision.
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