Belal Muhammad defeats Demian Maia at UFC 263

Belal Muhammad, Demian Maia

On the main card of UFC 263, we saw a showdown between two top fifteen welterweights. 12th ranked Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC) returned to the octagon to take on the MMA legend Demian Maia (28-10).

What a career it’s been for Demian Maia and UFC 263 might just be the end. At 43 years old, Maia might be gearing up to hang up the gloves. Maia made his UFC debut in just his seventh pro fight all the way back in 2007.

While he’s never won a world title, Maia has proven to be the model of consistency. When he lost to Gilbert Burns last March, that snapped a three-fight win streak. Had he won that fight with Burns, he might’ve gotten his third UFC title shot.

Standing across from Maia tonight was Belal Muhammad. Back in March, Muhammad had a golden opportunity. On short notice, the UFC gave him a main event slot against Leon Edwards. If Muhammad won that fight, he would’ve jumped right into the title picture.

However, an accidental eye poke in the second round by Edwards ended the fight in a No Contest. That NC snapped a four-fight winning streak. Muhammad was looking to get back on the winning track at UFC 263.

UFC 263 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 263 welterweight contest kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Maia immediately took the center and looked for his left hand. Nice straight right hand lands for Muhammad and Maia tries to shoot in for a takedown.

Good left hand lands for Demian Maia. Straight right for Muhammad pops the head back of Maia. Maia gets deep on a takedown attempt, however, Muhammad defends well. Muhammad gets his back to the fence as he continues to defend the Maia takedown attempt.

Maia uses a trip to get Muhammad down and Muhammad lands awkwardly on his leg. However, Muhammad works his way right back to his feet. Muhammad is able to escape and they go back to striking. Sloppy takedown attempt from Maia is easily defended by Muhammad.

Left hand lands for Muhammad and Maia shoots in deep on another takedown. Muhammad defends well and lands a nice left when they go back to striking. Good right hand lands for Belal Muhammad. The round ends with Maia trying another takedown attempt. I lean Muhammad after one at UFC 263.

Round 2

The first round could have gone to either man at UFC 263. Maia gets the striking started in round two with a left hand. Little activity here in the opening minute as both men were a little out of range to land anything significant.

Good lead left hand lands for Demian Maia and Muhammad tries to answer but whiffs. Muhammad looks tentative here in the second round. Maia tries for a takedown, but Muhammad shrugs him off with ease. Nice jab lands for Muhammad.

Right and left lands for Demian Maia. Muhammad pushes forward with forces a shot from Maia. Another stuffed takedown for Muhammad. Both men trade good left hands. Another left lands for Demian Maia.

Right hand lands for Belal Muhammad and Muhammad starting to string together some punches. Double jab lands for Muhammad. Maia’s shots are getting sloppier and sloppier here in the second. He tries in the final minute to get another takedown, but can’t get Muhammad down. After two, I have it 2-0 Muhammad at UFC 263.

Round 3

It could be even, but I think Maia needs a finish here at UFC 263. Both touch gloves to start the action. Nice left straight lands for Demian Maia. Muhammad pushes forward, but Maia uses it to try and land a takedown.

However, Muhammad defends well and they go back to striking. Right hands for Muhammad seem to stagger Maia briefly. Another good right hand lands for Belal Muhammad. Head kick and jab lands for Muhammad.

Maia tries for another takedown, but Muhammad again just shrugs him off. Left hand over the top lands for Muhammad and he’s pulling away here in the third round. Solid right hand lands for Muhammad, but Maia does land a sneaky left.

Combination lands for Muhammad. Good lead uppercut lands for Muhammad, but Maia counters with a good left. Body shot lands for Muhammad and he throws another head kick. Maia again goes for the takedown, but nothing there.

Maia is wearing the damage a little in the third. He tries for another takedown, but again, Muhammad stays on his feet. The crowd is getting restless at UFC 263 as the boos fill the arena. The fight comes to a close and this should be a pretty clear decision win for Belal Muhammad.

Belal Muhammad def. Demian Maia by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

UFC 263 Fight Preview: Israel Adesanya – Marvin Vettori

Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC 263, we will see a rematch for the middleweight title. The undisputed champion Israel Adesanya (20-1) returns to the middleweight division to take on a familiar foe in Marvin Vettori (17-4-1).

Back at UFC 259, Adesanya attempted to become a two-division world champion by moving up and challenging Jan Blachowicz. Ultimately, Blachowicz handed Adesanya his first professional loss and Adesanya came up short in his attempt to become a champ-champ.

Now, The Last Stylebender is returning to his home weight class where he’s been perfect. Nobody has ever defeated Adesanya at 185 pounds and that includes Marvin Vettori. The two previously met in the UFC back in early 2018.

Adesanya won a split decision and to this day, Vettori believes he won the fight. Since then, both men have gone on impressive streaks. Vettori has strung together five consecutive wins to earn this shot at UFC 263.

Stylebender won seven straight before he came up short against Blachowicz. During that stretch, Adesanya defeated the likes of Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, Derek Brunson, and Kelvin Gastelum. Simply put, Stylebender is one of the best that the UFC has to offer.

UFC 263 Prediction

When it comes to the main event at UFC 263, Adesanya is the betting favorite for a reason. While Marvin Vettori has been very impressive, he hasn’t gone on a streak like Adesanya. Adesanya has beaten the best of the best at 185 pounds.

That said, Jan Blachowicz did show some wrinkles in Adesanya’s game. The UFC middleweight champion is incredibly difficult to take down, but if you can get him down, he didn’t show a great ability to get back to his feet. Granted, he was fighting Jan Blachowicz and Marvin Vettori is not Jan Blachowicz.

That said, Marvin Vettori can take a few things away from that fight. If Vettori can pressure Stylebender and make this fight dirty, he can definitely create some close rounds. Is he good enough and can he do enough to win three out of five rounds?

I’m not convinced of that. I think this fight is going to be very competitive, but I think the UFC champion will have the bigger moments throughout. Adesanya really wants to finish this fight, but I think it goes the distance.

Prediction: Israel Adesanya by Unanimous Decision

UFC 263 Preview: Deiveson Figueiredo – Brandon Moreno 2

In the co-main event of UFC 263, we will see a flyweight title rematch from one of the fights of the year in 2020. The flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) is back to defend his title against top contender Brandon Moreno (18-5-2).

These two men first met back at UFC 256 in December. In late November last year, Figueiredo successfully defended his title against Alex Perez. Figueiredo won quickly in the first round while taking no damage.

Earlier that evening, Brandon Moreno won in the first round as well. The UFC needed a headliner for their December PPV after the card had been hit by injuries. With both flyweights coming out of UFC 255 clean, the promotion turned them around and had them headline the December PPV.

The two men went to war in an instant classic. Figueiredo started extremely fast looking for the finish, but Brandon Moreno was game. Moreno took the best shots from the champion and would fire right back.

Overall, Figueiredo was getting the better of Moreno ever so slightly in December. However, a massive kick that landed low cost Figueiredo a point. That one-point deduction took away a decision win for Figueiredo and made the fight a draw.

Since the two men fought to a draw, the UFC decided to run things back tomorrow night. This is a popular pick for fight of the night and it’s easy to see why. I don’t see how these two are even capable of putting on a boring performance.

UFC 263 Prediction

The UFC 263 co-main event is going to be a sensational fight. I honestly can’t wait to watch this rematch between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. Now, going into the fight, Figueiredo should be a decent sized favorite.

I believe that both men fought well in December, but Moreno fought a lot closer to his potential than Figueiredo in my opinion. With Moreno fighting one of the best fights he could possibly fight, he still would have lost if it wasn’t for a low blow.

Not too mention that the UFC confirmed that Figueiredo spent the night before the fight in the hospital. The best Moreno still couldn’t beat Figueiredo when Figueiredo wasn’t at his best.

Ultimately, I just believe that Deiveson Figueiredo is the best flyweight in the world. I’m expecting these two to go to war again, but I think Figueiredo will find his finishing blow this time. I believe Figueiredo will become the first man to finish Brandon Moreno at UFC 263.

Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO – Round 3

UFC 263 Preview: Belal Muhammad – Demian Maia

Belal Muhammad, Demian Maia

Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC 263, we will see a showdown between two top fifteen welterweights. 12th ranked Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC) returns as he takes on the MMA legend Demian Maia (28-10).

What a career it’s been for Demian Maia and UFC 263 might just be the end. At 43 years old, Maia might be gearing up to hang up the gloves. Maia made his UFC debut in just his seventh pro fight all the way back in 2007.

He’s been fighting with the promotion an astonishing 14 years and holds a UFC record of 22-10. During that stretch, Maia has challenged for both the UFC middleweight and welterweight championships.

While he’s never won a world title, Maia has proven to be the model of consistency. When he lost to Gilbert Burns last March, that snapped a three-fight win streak. Had he won that fight with Burns, he might’ve gotten another UFC title shot.

Standing across from Maia tomorrow night is Belal Muhammad. Back in March, Muhammad had a golden opportunity. On short notice, the UFC gave him a main event slot against Leon Edwards. If Muhammad won that fight, he would’ve jumped right into the title picture.

However, an accidental eye poke in the second round by Edwards ended the fight in a No Contest. That NC snapped a four-fight winning streak. Muhammad is looking to get back on the winning track tomorrow night at UFC 263.

UFC 263 Prediction

When examining this matchup at UFC 263, I can’t help but think it’s a tough one for Demian Maia. Maia is one of the best jiu jitsu practitioners the UFC has ever seen. However, we’ve seen him struggle to get fights to the ground especially against top level wrestlers.

Well, Belal Muhammad is a very good wrestler. On the feet, I think Muhammad is going to have a clear advantage. I’m expecting a ton of pressure from Muhammad and I think we are going to see even more improvement in his striking.

In his Dhiego Lima fight back in February, I was incredibly impressed with the boxing of Belal Muhammad. I don’t think Maia will get this to the mat, and I just see Muhammad winning the striking exchanges at UFC 263. Don’t think we see a finish, but I think we will see a clear win for “Remember the Name”.

Prediction: Belal Muhammad by Unanimous Decision

UFC 263 Preview: Nate Diaz – Leon Edwards

Tomorrow night at UFC 263 we will see the return of one of the biggest stars in the sport. Nate Diaz (20-12) is returning and it’s in the welterweight division as he takes on one of the very best in the world in Leon “Rocky” Edwards (18-3, 1 NC).

This fight will actually make history tomorrow night. It is the first fight in UFC history that is a non-title/non-main event five-round fight. Diaz wanted this to be a five-round fight so it’s a five-round fight.

This is the first time we’ve seen Diaz since his BMF title fight against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244. That night, Masvidal was getting the better of Diaz before a cut stopped the fight. However, Diaz was coming on strong in the middle rounds.

Diaz has always been known as a guy who starts really slow then really gets going. Likely why he wanted this fight to be five rounds. Stockton’s own looks more motivated than ever and he’s ready to get into the UFC‘s welterweight title picture.

UFC 263 is a massive opportunity for Leon Edwards. Entering 2020, Edwards had won eight fights in a row and had a fight booked against Tyron Woodley in a title eliminator. However, COVID shut everything down. Multiple fights for Edwards got cancelled for a variety of reasons and he didn’t return until March of this year.

After looking good early, Edwards accidentally poked Belal Muhammad in the eye and his anticipated return ended in a No Contest. Now, at UFC 263, he’s going to look to make a massive statement and show why he should be challenging for the title.

UFC 263 Prediction

When thinking of this matchup at UFC 263, it doesn’t make any sense but it’s so much fun. On paper, this is a horrible matchup for Nate Diaz. We’ve seen Nate struggle with guys who are bigger than him at 170 pounds.

It was very evident yesterday at the presser that Edwards is a big welterweight. Edwards is also elite in his striking and he uses his kicks extremely well. Diaz has also struggled in the past with guys who use their kicks really well.

I’m not going to say Nate Diaz doesn’t have a shot, but it’s a steep uphill climb. The only way I see Nate winning is if this touches the ground and he gets a submission or if Leon Edwards just completely gasses out. I don’t see the second option really happening.

When it comes to my UFC 263 prediction, I think we are going to see a lot of kicks from Edwards and I think he’s going to be just the second man to ever stop Diaz via strikes. Leon Edwards is set to have a breakout performance tomorrow night.

Prediction: Leon Edwards by TKO – Round 3

Marvin Vettori aiming for a finish UFC 263 to leave no doubt he’s the best

We are just ten days away from UFC 263 and fans are getting ready for one of the best cards of the year. In the main event, Israel Adesanya (20-1) returns to the middleweight division to defend his title against a familiar foe in Marvin Vettori (17-4-1).

The two men first fought back in April of 2018. It was just the second UFC fight for Adesanya and the fifth for The Italian Dream. That night, Adesanya was able to win a close split decision over Vettori.

You can re-watch the first fight in it’s entirety here. I believe it was a pretty clear win for Adesanya, but the split decision nature of the win is why this matchup at UFC 263 is so intriguing.

Marvin Vettori was definitely able to have success in their first matchup. Now, that was more than three years ago and both men are so much better than they used to be. Adesanya has risen to the top of the sport by becoming UFC middleweight champion.

Earlier this year, Adesanya tried to become a two-division champion by capturing the light heavyweight crown at UFC 259. Unfortunately for Stylebender, he lost a unanimous decision to Jan Blachowicz.

That said, Adesanya is still perfect at 185 pounds. Since that loss to Adesanya in 2018, Marvin Vettori has also been perfect in the UFC. After that loss, Vettori has gone on to win five in a row to earn him this shot next weekend.

Vettori aims to finish Adesanya at UFC 263

On the heels of his five-fight win streak, The Italian Dream is more confident than ever heading into UFC 263. In speaking to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Vettori made it clear that he wants to win decisively next weekend.

Vettori said, “I want to finish this guy, man. I really want to finish this guy. Leave no doubt. I think I can. But if not, he’s solid you know… He’s slippery and he’s able to get out of positions. If I’m not (able to finish him), I just have to beat him every round. I can’t get any round get close.”

Historically, UFC title fights that are close tend to favor the champion on the scorecards. Vettori understands that and he knows that he needs to make the rounds decisive to leave no doubt.

One thing I know for sure is that Vettori is going to take the fight to Adesanya at UFC 263. It’s not going to be an easy fight for either man. Adesanya is the favorite and he should be, but I fully expect The Italian Dream to push him hard next Saturday night.

Leon Edwards vows to ‘batter’ Nate Diaz at UFC 263

Leon Edwards

Next weekend at UFC 263 we are going to get to see a very highly anticipated contest in the welterweight division. Top contender Leon Edwards (18-3, 1 NC) is set to face off against one of the biggest stars in the sport, Nate Diaz (20-12).

Originally, Diaz and Edwards were set to face off at UFC 262 in Houston. However, Diaz suffered a minor injury which pushed the fight back a month. The fight between the two men is the first of it’s kind for the promotion.

The matchup between Diaz and Edwards is considered a third headlining fight. It’s the third fight on the main card, but it’s scheduled for five rounds. It’s the first fight in UFC history that’s a non-title, non-main event that’s scheduled for five rounds.

Diaz is fighting his fifth straight fight in the UFC‘s welterweight division. Granted, three of the previous four matchups were against guys who naturally fight at lightweight. Diaz has spent the majority of his career at 155 pounds.

Diaz hasn’t fought since his BMF title fight against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244. That night was cut short due to a cut and we haven’t seen Diaz since. Now, he’s jumping in there against one of the very best in the world in Leon Edwards.

Edwards has had a string of awful luck in the UFC from fight cancellations to an eye poke that spoiled his return. Now, he’s facing off against one of the most popular fighters in the sport and he’s ready to make a statement.

Edwards wants his UFC title shot

Leon Edwards respects Nate Diaz, but he doesn’t believe that he has anything for him. In speaking with MMA Junkie, Edwards made it clear that he doesn’t believe Nate Diaz will give him any trouble at UFC 263.

“I envision going out there and just battering him from pillar to post and getting the stoppage,” Edwards said. “I know he’s a tough, durable guy and I just don’t think being tough and durable is enough to beat me. I’ve worked hard, and I’ve dedicated myself for a long time, and it’s now time for my results to show. I can’t wait to go out there and prove that.”

If Edwards is able to get a stoppage at UFC 263, it will be massive. However, doing that is not going to be easy. Diaz has only been stopped by strikes once in his career. If Edwards becomes the second man to do it, he just might earn himself a UFC title shot.

Cody Garbrandt focused on becoming a two-division UFC champion

This weekend at UFC Vegas 27, former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (12-3) returns in the main event. Garbrandt is taking on the surging contender Rob Font (18-4) in a pivotal matchup for the bantamweight division.

The last year has been really difficult for the former UFC champion. Garbrandt last fought at UFC 250 last June where he knocked out Raphael Assuncao in the second round with a savage right hand.

It was a massive win for Garbrandt who snapped a three-fight losing streak with that win. After the win, Garbrandt came out and said that he was going to drop to flyweight and challenge for the UFC‘s flyweight title.

The promotion booked him against the champion Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) at UFC 255. However, after a battle with COVID, Garbrandt had to pull out of the fight. Figueiredo ended up defeating Alex Perez that night and fought to a draw a few weeks later against Brandon Moreno (18-5-2).

At UFC 263, Figueiredo and Moreno will rematch after their first fight was scored a draw. That delayed Garbrandt’s chances at the flyweight title and as a result, he decided to stay at bantamweight to fight Rob Font.

The former UFC champion now finds himself in a unique spot. If he wins on Saturday, he could be one of the first in line to fight for the bantamweight title. However, he also could be the next in line for the flyweight title after UFC 263.

Garbrandt’s two-division UFC dream

In speaking to the media this week prior to UFC Vegas 27, Garbrandt made it clear that he sees two titles in his future. He laid out a scenario in which he can become a two-division champion in the next year.

Garbrandt pointed out the fact that if he wins Saturday and the winner of Figueiredo/Moreno comes out clean, he could fight the winner in a few months. That would be his chance to capture the UFC flyweight title.

If that were to happen, Garbrandt could then move back up to challenge the bantamweight champion. Champion Aljamain Sterling (20-3) and Petr Yan (15-2) are expected to rematch in the fall after Sterling won the title by DQ at UFC 259.

TJ Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen are fighting in July and the winner of that matchup might be next. However, Garbrandt could be the second in line after Sandhagen/Dillashaw.

If “No Love” wins at UFC Vegas 27 then drops down to become the flyweight champion, he very well could fight for the bantamweight title next year. It’s a steep ask, but Garbrandt seems up to the challenge. You can see his full pre-fight media scrum below.

UFC: Injury to Nate Diaz postpones Leon Edwards fight

UFC 262 took a hit late last night. The co-main event between Nate Diaz (20-12) and Leon Edwards (18-3, 1 NC) is off. Diaz suffered a minor injury in training and the fight has been postponed.

Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole was the first with the news last night. Diaz and Edwards were set to compete in the first five-round, non-title, non-main event fight in the history of the promotion. It appears that Tony Ferguson – Beneil Dariush will move to the co-main slot at UFC 262.

The good news is that the fight is still going to happen. It has been confirmed that the fight between Diaz is moving to UFC 263 on June 12th. The card already has two title fights. However, even with two title fights, the Diaz – Edwards matchup will remain five rounds.

For Nate Diaz, this will be his first fight since he lost to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244. It will be Diaz’s ninth bout in the UFC‘s welterweight division. Thus far, he’s gone 4-4 in his first eight matchups at 170 pounds.

More UFC bad luck for Leon Edwards

If there’s anyone who has learned how to roll with the UFC scheduling punches, it’s Leon Edwards. In March of 2020, Edwards was a week away from fighting former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.

However, the pandemic shut everything down and the fight was called off. The UFC then called Edwards about a title opportunity in July, but the English fighter couldn’t get out to train so he missed that opportunity.

From there, the UFC couldn’t find him an opponent. Finally, they settled on Khamzat Chimaev. Edwards and Chimaev were set to main event a card in December. However, Edwards got COVID and the fight was pushed to January.

Then, Chimaev got COVID and the fight was pushed to March. However, Chimaev still struggled with COVID symptoms and the fight was scrapped altogether. Belal Muhammad stepped in to face Edwards in March.

Leon Edwards looked sensational, but early in the second round, he accidentally poked Muhammad in the eye. Muhammad couldn’t continue and Edwards’ long-waited UFC debut ended with a No Contest.

Edwards hasn’t lost since 2015. That loss came against the current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Edwards is hoping to defeat Diaz and get a rematch with Usman, but he’s going to have to wait a little longer.

UFC booking Israel Adesanya – Marvin Vettori 2

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a middleweight title matchup for their June PPV. Combate was the first to report that the promotion was getting close to booking Israel Adesanya (20-1) against Marvin Vettori (17-4-1). Dana White hinted that the UFC was heading in this direction this week.

The rematch between these two will take place on June 12th and it will be the headliner of UFC 263. Originally, the promotion wanted Robert Whittaker (23-5) to be the one to face off against Adesanya on June 12th. However, Whittaker wanted a little more time before his rematch with Adesanya.

With Vettori ready to go, the UFC shifted gears to the next man in line. The Italian Dream has now won five fights in a row since his loss to Adesanya. Something that will get brought up in the buildup to UFC 263 is their first matchup. Adesanya won the fight by split decision, however, Vettori is adamant that he won the fight.

For the record, I believe the right man won that night. Both have been extremely successful since their first matchup and both are much more polished now. Marvin Vettori is going to go after Israel Adesanya at UFC 263 with ever intention on capturing the middleweight title.

UFC middleweight return for Stylebender

UFC 263 will mark the middleweight return of Israel Adesanya. Back in March, Adesanya moved to light heavyweight to try and become a two-division champion. However, he ultimately fell short and suffered his first career loss at the hands of Jan Blachowicz.

Adesanya took the loss extremely well and he seems motivated to defend his UFC title. Nobody in the middleweight division has been able to stop Adesanya. Since joining the promotion back in 2018, Adesanya is a perfect 9-0 in the UFC’s middleweight division.

Make no mistake about it, Adesanya is the best middleweight in the sport. However, Marvin Vettori could use a strategy that Jan Blachowicz used at UFC 259. Vettori just showed against Kevin Holland that he can lean on his wrestling. In fact, he did that in the first matchup. Adesanya will be the massive favorite, but there is a path for The Italian Dream.