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UFC 263: Top 3 Fights and Recap

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Israel Adesanya landing a right uppercut on Marvin Vettori

Israel Adesanya landing a right uppercut on Marvin Vettori

Another successful UFC pay-per-view event took place at the Gila River Arena in Arizona, with a successful title defense by UFC Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, and a new UFC Flyweight champion, Brandon Moreno.

The UFC 263 card was stacked all the way from the prelims as we got to see bangers from Brad Riddell and Drew Dober. Once we get to the main card, UFC continues to capture jaw-dropping moments such as Jamahal Hill’s arm turning into spaghetti. The main card also featured the return of Nate Diaz against Leon Edwards, which turned out as I expected, a unanimous decision win for Leon Edwards.

My top 3 fights on this card:

1.Riddell vs. Dober

2.Edwards vs. Diaz

3.Evloev vs. Dawodu

Brad Riddell Def. Drew Dober (UD)

Brad Riddell landing a body kick on Drew Dober

Brad Riddell landing a body kick on Drew Dober

This fight was an excellent matchup and it definitely lived up to its hype. Drew Dober is no slouch in the lightweight division for upcoming prospects and I think Brad Riddell’s performance showed how tough he is.

Riddell was clearly the more technical striker in the fight. He picked his shots and showed excellent counter striking abilities. Dober came out like a brawler in this fight and threw heavy handed combos throughout most of the fight. Don’t get me wrong, I know Dober has hands and is an exceptional striker. Riddell knew that he couldn’t just cruise with the guy after being wobbled in the first round, but Riddell’s experience in kickboxing showed that he is very tough. Dober was able to rock Riddell’s world twice in the fight, but Riddell stayed calm and threw nice counters. Riddell was not going away and slowly picked Dober apart.

What really impressed me in this fight was Riddell’s grappling abilities. I thought Dober was going to be the superior grappler coming into the fight, but Riddell was able to scramble with him throughout the fight. Riddell had ground control for 2 and half minutes while Dober had ground control for about a minute. Riddell surprisingly initiated more takedowns too. With 5 successful takedowns out of 11, I realized that Riddell is not a one dimensional fighter by any means. He is inches away from being in the top 10 and after beating Dober, who was #13 in the lightweight division, he might get a top 10 opponent in his next bout.

Leon Edwards Def. Nate Diaz (UD)

Leon Edwards landing a jab on Nate Diaz

Leon Edwards landing a jab on Nate Diaz

I had a very one-sided attitude about Nate Diaz’ chances of winning this fight during the build-up, but the actual fight itself proved to me that Nate Diaz is still a dangerous guy in the welterweight division. Edwards was on skates after taking a heavy left cross from Diaz and was pretty close to being finished. Edwards nonetheless was able to put on a striking clinic throughout most of the fight and even showcased his grappling against Diaz, who is exceptional on the ground.

I say Edwards won 4 of the 5 rounds as he was clearly the faster and more precise striker. Although he didn’t throw as many strikes as Diaz, he was able to do more damage. Edwards threw quality shots that frustrated Diaz throughout most of the fight. He was able to cut Diaz and damage his leg. It was easy to tell that Diaz was struggling to stand for a moment in the fight. Diaz’s pressure and left hand was the only answer he had for Edwards.

Diaz proved in this fight that he can still be a fighting zombie. He may not be the winner, but he sure is still the fan favorite. Despite taking all that damage and being controlled on the ground, he was still able to wobble Edwards, who is pretty durable. Diaz may not be known to have the fastest or heaviest hands, but he sure knows how to crack a good striker. This moment made this fight so much better. I just wished Diaz took that moment a little more seriously instead of pointing at Edwards because Edwards was not seeing straight and which could’ve made it much easier for Diaz.

Diaz can put any fighter to the test and Leon showed that he can go all five rounds with someone who does not stop fighting. Leon now has a 10 fight winning streak and I am still confused as to why he hasn’t gotten a title shot. My theory is that despite having a long winning streak, he hasn’t really fought anyone in the top 5 for a while. I say Leon deserves the title shot, but I know Colby has plans for that, so I am assuming the Leon might have to take fight in the top 5 to prove that he is the #1 contender.

Movsar Evloev Def. Hakeem Dawodu (UD)

Movsar Evloev and Hakeem Dawodu engaging in the pocket

Movsar Evloev and Hakeem Dawodu engaging in the pocket

The first fight that captured my attention on the card was Movsar Evloev’s performance against Hakeem Dawodu. Before coming into this fight, I was a Hakeem Dawodu fan because I like watching strikers, but Evloev’s showcasing of his ground control abilities made me realize what an absolute monster he can be for the division. My initial impression was that Dowadu was going to put on a striking clinic with Evloev because Dowadu’s takedown defense is not half bad, but boy was I wrong.

Evloev was able to hang on the feet for a while up until the last round, but whenever he brought the fight to the ground, he dominated from edge to edge. Dowadu had no answers for Evloev on the ground or the clinch. Evloev tried to strike with Dawodu in the second round, but it was clear that Dowadu was the better striker. Going into the third round, Dowadu was able to wobble Evloev twice, which got me very excited because it looked like Evloev could’ve gotten finished, but Evloev was smart and initiated another takedown, which kept him safe for the rest of the round.

Dawodu is still a good fighter in my opinion. He is a dangerous striker and I think his takedown defense is improving. It just so happens that Evloev is incredible at transitioning from striking to takedowns. Dawodu still proved to me that he can strike by stunning Evloev in the final round, which made it a good fight. Evloev is someone to look out for in the featherweight division. He can wrestle, he is not a bad striker, and he is tough.

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