UFC 263 Recap…What Just Happened?

UFC 263

Entering UFC 263 my expectations were quite high, to say the card exceeded them is an understatement. Minus the ungrateful fans, I thought the card was spectacular. We had 11 of 14 fights go to the judge’s scorecards, accumulating 3:19:32 of fight time, both single-event UFC records. However, at no point in time did I find myself looking at the clock or wondering when I could finally go to sleep. It was a night of epic proportions. 

 

Top 10 Best Moments Of The Night

 

1.)

Carlos Felipe and Jake Collier set forth the night’s action establishing a violent tone. If fights were going the distance, they were going to be quality barnburners. Despite throwing 36 less significant strikes, Felipe was able to win the fight via split decision, furthering his win streak in the UFC to three. What I like about Felipe is his contagious energy. All of his fights are entertaining because he genuinely loves to fight. Felipe slings heat for the duration of his bouts, constantly pressuring and provoking his opponent. The Brazilians three-fight win streak is tied for the fifth-longest active streak in the heavyweight division.

 

2.)

Watching Fares Ziam flow for two rounds was a sight to behold. His kickboxing prowess, movement, and takedown defense were on full display. Shockingly enough, the moment I remember most from the fight was what Luigi Vendramini did in the first 45 seconds of the third round. Knowing he was losing the fight, Vendramini came off the stool GUNS BLAZIN’, throwing a relentless barrage of hooks and overhands that found their way to Ziam’s chin. Marc Montoya told his fighter he needed a finish and Vendramini went full berserker in an attempt to find one. 

 

3.)

Fortis MMA’s Steven Peterson, a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, was able to entertain exciting ground exchanges with Chase Hooper, surviving and defending his leg attacks very well. I found that to be impressive. What I didn’t find to be impressive was Peterson’s fake glove touch to superman punch in the preliminary seconds of the third round, but it sure was entertaining. All is fair in love and war.  

 

4.)

Terrance McKinney stepped in to fight Matt Frevola eight days removed from a 72-second KO over Michael Irizarry at LFA 109. Prior to that, he finished both of his opponents under the 20-second mark. Could he carry this electricity into his UFC debut? Nonetheless, could he do it on short notice against an opponent such as Matt Frevola, who just this year fought a well-contested bout against one of the division’s most feared prospects in Arman Tsarukyan? McKinney answered those questions in seven seconds. His knockout over Frevola marked the fourth fastest KO in UFC history and the fastest KO in UFC lightweight history.

Unfortunately, McKinney looked to hurt his knee Bill Gramatica style celebrating after his jaw-dropping win. It was nothing fancy, just a simple leap to eclipse the octagon that resulted in him coming down awkwardly. In the words of Jon Anik, “It was a lot to digest.” McKinney has won all 11 of his career victories by stoppage. 

 

5.)

Lauren Murphy beats Joanne Calderwood. Lucky’s five-fight win streak at women’s flyweight puts her one win behind Valentina Shevchenko who holds the longest active streak with six. I expect Murphy to get her title shot with Shevchenko sometime in the fall. 

 

6.)

Drew Dober vs. Brad Riddell. These two warriors are cashing bonus checks this week. Hands down, this was our Fight Of The Night at UFC 263 and one of the best three-round fights of the year. Sometimes a perfect matchup will fizzle out and other times it will deliver. In this case, we got everything the fight was cracked up to be with a sprinkle of “hey let’s fight to the death.”

You have to love when two technical fighters engage like they had some sort of secret agreement not to move backward. Riddell landed 89 of his 137 significant strikes while Dober connected with 73 out of 168 of his. The momentum swung in this fight like a pendulum in an Edgar Allen Poe verse. Fireworks from start till finish, I highly suggest you watch it back!

 

7.)

Full transparency right now, I had Matt Frevola and Jamahal Hill picked to win their fights Saturday night. This is the best sport on earth and a part of that is because we truly never know what’s going to happen when two trained professionals take part in combat. I had a feeling that we would see a Hill knockout, or Craig pulling off some sort of jiu-jitsu magic in the second or third round. What transpired was something I never could have imagined.

Two minutes into the fight with Hill in his guard Craig began to threaten arm-bars. Amid the gruesome dislocation of Hill’s arm, Craig locked in a triangle and began to repeatedly hammer-fist and elbow his opponent. The referee could have stopped the fight 20 seconds earlier but instead, we witnessed Hill’s arm flop around like what Joe Rogan called a rubber arm. Then the pair went out and got drunk after. ONLY IN MMA!

 

8.)

Leon Edwards fights Nate Diaz. Ariel Helwani said it best,

“Those 60 seconds are why Nathan Diaz is the legend that he is. No matter what, no matter the circumstances, no matter the cut, the blood, all that stuff, no matter the fact that he was losing 24 minutes of that fight, he is able to win people over like that.”

What he’s referring to is the Stockton slap that came accompanied by a missile of a cross late in the fifth round. Both strikes landed putting Edwards on sharpened ice skates in the waning moments of the fight. The crowd went mad. What did the Stockton Slugger do? Like the gangster he is, he pointed and laughed. Unforgettable to say the least. Let us not forget though, Leon Edwards deserves all the credit. He won the match and now sits on a ten-fight win streak in the UFC’s welterweight division. 

9.)

We were blessed Saturday night in more ways than one. But nothing and I mean nothing could have warmed your heart more than seeing us receive our first Mexican-born UFC champion. Brandon Moreno becomes the fourth man to hold flyweight gold and the first man to submit Deiveson Figueiredo. This came after he was the lowest seed on TUF 24, after Moreno was cut from the UFC on a two-fight skid, and after he had to fight his way back to the top of the division.

It’s a success story you only see in movies, and when it comes to fighting. If you stay consistent, if you put in the work and develop your craft, even a boy from Tijuana, Mexico can rise up to become world champion. There was this moment of bliss when Moreno won the fight. He stood up, glanced at thousands of inspired fans as if the moment had not yet sunk in, but when it hit him, that was something special. 

10.)

Israel Adesanya successfully defended ten takedowns and his middleweight title for a third time. The Last Stylebender showed he’s still improving, using hasty getups to limit Marvin Vettori’s control time. In a performance Daniel Cormier graded with an A, Adesanya was able to avoid the Italians pressure and uncanny ability to mix it up better than anyone in the division. It was an efficient and strategic master class by the African-born New Zealander. Adesanya’s 10-fight win streak at middleweight is the longest active streak in the division.

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