The UFC 263 prelims were absolutely stacked with high-level competition and rising stars. Four of the fighters from the prelims truly stood out above the rest with their performances. These four fighters have set themselves up for an exciting future in the sport of MMA.
Brad Riddell had arguably the best performance of his career thus far on Saturday night. Riddell’s fight of the night war with Drew Dober is a must-see fight. Many fans were expecting an exciting battle in this fight, and it did not disappoint. Riddell’s counter striking was as impressive, landing 89 significant strikes. He also managed to connect with a 64% accuracy rate. We already knew how good of a striker Riddell was coming into this fight, but what stood out to me was his improvements in the wrestling exchanges. Riddell landed 5 of 11 takedowns and controlled Dober for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Riddell was seemingly running away with the fight, but he put an exclamation mark on his performance with a strong 3rd round. This win sets Riddell up for another ranked opponent that could propel him into title contention. After the fight, Riddell called out 10th ranked lightweight Gregor Gillespie, which was previously booked before being canceled because of COVID protocol. It will be interesting to see where the UFC decides to go.
Lauren Murphy won a close split decision over Joanne Calderwood on the UFC 263 prelims. This win basically cements that Murphy will be the next title challenger to face Valentina Shevchenko. Although it was a good performance from Murphy, it might be overshadowed by the controversial decision. Round 1 was the deciding factor on the scorecards as rounds 2 and 3 were fairly simple to score, with Murphy winning the 2nd and Calderwood taking the 3rd.
It primarily comes down to whether you thought Murphy’s power shots were more significant than the overall volume from Calderwood in the 1st round. It was a close fight that the judges scored in favor of Murphy. Dana White said in his press conference that Murphy is most likely next for Valentina Shevchenko. That will be an interesting fight as most think Valentina is almost untouchable at 125. Stay on the lookout for an announcement on that potential fight.
Movsar Evloev had a dominant performance in his unanimous decision victory over Hakeem Dawodu. The first two rounds were just pure excellence from Evloev on the ground. Evloev secured 4 takedowns in the first round that led to three and half minutes of ground control. He then followed up with a 10-8 second-round landing 3 takedowns that resulted in four and a half minutes of ground control. Evloev landed 91 strikes to Dawodu’s 13 in the 2nd round alone. However, Dawodu did win the 3rd round, but you could see that Evloev was trying to be more conservative after banking the first two rounds.
The 27-year-old Russian is only getting better with each fight. If he continues to improve, there is no doubt he will be in the top 5 very soon. There are a lot of options within the featherweight top 15 that Evloev could take on next. With how stacked the featherweight division is, any ranked matchup for Evloev will be a tough challenge. Luckily for Evloev, his wrestling makes him a very tough matchup for most ranked featherweights. The UFC cannot go wrong with whoever they decide to match him up with.
One of the more unknown fighters on the UFC 263 prelims was the debuting Terrance McKinney. After his 7 second KO over Matt Frevola, we can assure you that everyone watching will not forget this kid’s name anytime soon. McKinney produced an all-time highlight reel KO at UFC 263, with a two-punch combo that dropped his opponent instantly. McKinney was actually on the Dana White Contender Series in 2019, but he would ultimately lose to Sean Woodson via flying knee.
It took McKinney four more regional bouts to make his way back to the UFC octagon. However, McKinney did tweak his knee during his celebration. Luckily, in a post-fight interview with Brett Okamoto, he did say that it shouldn’t be too bad, but he will get it checked out by a doctor. With one of the all-time short notice debuts in UFC history, it will be intriguing to see how he continues to perform after this spark of popularity.
What did you think of the UFC 263 prelims? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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