UFC 263: Adesanya retains, Moreno new champ and Nate Diaz stretches Edwards

Israel Adesanya put on a dominant display to retain his middleweight title against Marvin Vettori, while Brandon Moreno beat Deiveson Figueiredo to become new flyweight champion.

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya put on a clinic in defeating Marvin Vettori of Italy in the main event of Saturday night's UFC 263 (File Photo).   -  Getty Images

Israel Adesanya remains king of the UFC middleweight division.

Coming off his first career loss in a challenge to light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz, the UFC middleweight titleholder returned to his division and put on a clinic in defeating Marvin Vettori of Italy in the main event of Saturday night's UFC 263.

The judges' scorecards at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, read 50-45 across the board for a unanimous decision.

 

Vettori (17-5-1) had a clear game plan which involved hunting down New Zealand's Adesanya (21-1), throwing heavy hands, then looking for a clinch along the cage in order to take things to the mat. He found just enough success to keep his opponent honest and go the distance, but Adesanya was simply on another level.

Adesanya landed low kicks over and over, evaded most of Vettori's shots and defended the bulk of the takedown attempts. He added in several head kicks which landed flush and his usual array of inventive strikes, which at times made the MMA bout seem more like a sparring session than a serious fight.

The evening's co-feature bout featured an electric moment as Tijuana's Brandon Moreno became the first Mexican-born fighter to win a UFC championship. In a rematch of a classic title fight last December which went to a draw, Moreno defeated Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil to claim the flyweight championship with a third-round submission victory.

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Moreno (19-5-2) set the tone in the first by establishing a crisp jab and earning a knockdown with a left hook. He made his big adjustment from the first fight on the ground, and flustered Figueiredo (20-2-1), a man known for slick submissions.

From there it seemed like a matter of time, and a rear-naked choke caused Figueiredo to surrender at the 2:26 mark of the third, leading to a delirious reaction from the heavily Hispanic crowd in Arizona.

"I used all six months for this. Starting in January, starting the year, making drills, to be better today, and watch me (expletive) now," said Moreno.

Meanwhile, charismatic welterweight fighter Nate Diaz returned to the octagon after a nearly two-year absence against third-ranked Leon Edwards. Edwards (19-3) left Diaz bloodied by opening a gash above his left eye and another on the side of his head in the first non-title, five-round fight in UFC history.

However, Diaz (21-13) had plenty of fight left in him, wobbling Edwards with a big left in the fifth to bring the crowd off their feet. The Englishman managed to evade the 36-year-old from Stockton over the final minute and won by unanimous decision, putting himself in position for a showdown with champion Kamaru Usman.

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