UFC action returns this weekend with another stacked card. The Cloudbet Blog, led by @MMAdamMartin takes a look at UFC 263: Two title fights top the 14-fight card, which includes the first five-round, non-title, non-main event bout in promotional history. It should be an incredible night. Here, we’re focussed on the three big fights, though the event is stacked from bottom to top.
Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori - Middleweight title bout
Israel Adesanya to win 1.39: Israel Adesanya is the UFC middleweight champion. The 31-year-old New Zealand native won the first 20 fights of his career before losing for the first time in his last outing, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Jan Blachowicz in a failed bid for the UFC light heavyweight crown. The fight against Blachowicz showed the biggest flaw in Adesanya’s game - his takedown defense. However, Blachowicz’s weight advantage certainly played a role in helping him land takedowns. As far as his striking goes, Adesanya is one of the most technical strikers in the UFC right now. He is exceptional in the standup, with a full use of all eight limbs as he looks to batter and stop his opponents. He hasn’t been as effective recently, as two of his last three bouts were poor showings against Blachowicz and Yoel Romero - but as we saw in his TKO win over Paulo Costa, when Adesanya is on the top of his game, he’s unstoppable. In this fight, he rematches against Vettori, who he beat three years ago by split decision. The oddsmakers have Adesanya as a big favorite to defend his belt, but this fight should be close.
Marvin Vettori to win 3.18: Marvin Vettori has earned his first UFC title shot by winning his last five fights, including back-to-back wins over Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland that proved he’s a top contender in the middleweight division. The 27-year-old Italian has a strong wrestling base and is able to utilize his grappling to get the majority of his opponents to the mat and grind them out. On the feet, he is a decent striker and seems to be improving as he gains more experience in the Octagon. He is still a young and developing fighter and is confident he has what it takes to defeat the champ. The first time Vettori met Adesanya, he lost a split decision in a competitive fight. This time around, he will be looking to leave no doubt with a dominant victory. It will be an uphill climb for Vettori, who is a big underdog, but he has a path to victory with his grappling.
Total rounds: The total rounds for this bout has been set at 4.5 rounds. Regardless of who gets their hand raised in this fight, it is likely to go the distance. Either Adesanya is able to stick and move for 25 minutes and win a unanimous decision, or Vettori is able to get him down to the ground and use his wrestling to win on the scorecards. Leaning towards Vettori being able to take the fight to the mat and win it with his grappling, the fight going over 4.5 rounds.
Betting tips: Marvin Vettori/Over 4.5.
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno - flyweight title bout
Deiveson Figueiredo to win 1.45: Deiveson Figueiredo is the UFC flyweight champion. The 33-year-old Brazilian has been incredibly impressive in the UFC, with an all-time record of 9-1-1 inside the Octagon. That one draw came in his last fight against Moreno at UFC 256 last December. Although Figueiredo did enough to win three rounds, he was deducted a point for a low blow, leading to the draw. Prior to that fight, Figueiredo had been running through everyone in his path, with two vicious wins over Joseph Benavidez and a quick submission win over Alex Perez among his winning streak. Figueiredo is the best flyweight in the sport right now and he will look to defend his mantle atop the 125lb division with a victory over Moreno in this very intriguing rematch.
Brandon Moreno to win 2.92: Brandon Moreno is the No. 1 contender in the UFC flyweight division. The 27-year-old Mexican showed in the first fight with Figueiredo that he is one of the best flyweights in the world as he went tooth-and-nail with the champ and fought to a draw. Prior to the fight with Figueiredo, Moreno was on a roll, with three straight wins including a vicious TKO victory over Brandon Royval. It seems like Moreno is quickly improving his skills every fight, and we saw that first hand against Figueiredo. Moreno has solid grappling skills, good striking and an iron chin, which makes him a challenging matchup for the champ. Although Moreno was fortunate to walk away with a draw in the first fight, he is confident he can take the rematch this time around.
Total rounds: The total rounds for this bout has been set at 4.5 rounds. Since the last fight between these two went the distance, it’s understandable that the oddsmakers opened the line this way. However, there’s a good chance we go under 4.5 in the rematch. The first fight was a war and both men took a ton of damage, which means that they are likely more prone to being stopped in the rematch since it was only six months ago. Although Moreno showed off an iron chin in the first fight, he took a ton of damage and I feel like Figueiredo can stop him in the rematch. I am leaning towards a finish in this fight coming UNDER 4.5 rounds.
Betting tips: Deiveson Figueiredo/Under 4.5.
Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz - Welterweight
Leon Edwards to win 1.17: Leon Edwards is one of the elite welterweights in the UFC. Having joined the promotion in 2014, the 29-year-old Edwards has since racked up an impressive 10-2, 1 NC record in the Octagon with notable wins over the likes of Rafael dos Anjos and Vicente Luque. Edwards is a very well-rounded fighter who excels in the striking department, but he also has very underrated wrestling, which he has used to win fights in the past. Going up against Diaz, this is arguably the biggest fight of Edwards’ career and a win over a big name like Diaz will likely earn him a title shot at 170lbs. Edwards missed all of 2020 due to Covid-related issues, but he returned to the Octagon earlier this year and fought to a No Contest with Belal Muhammad. The fact he was able to get back in the cage recently should give him an edge over a Diaz who hasn’t been active of late, and the oddsmakers favour Edwards by quite a wide margin.
Nate Diaz to win 5.45: Nate Diaz is one of the most exciting and popular fighters in the UFC. Now 36 years old, he joined the UFC in 2007 when he won season five of The Ultimate Fighter - and he’s never looked back. In the years since, Diaz has been responsible for some of the greatest fights ever seen in the Octagon, not to mention one of the greatest upsets of all time when he submitted Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in 2016. Since then, however, Diaz has been very inactive, having only fought three times, with a 1-2 record. The last time was at UFC 244 in November 2019, when he lost to Jorge Masvidal via TKO due to cuts. At his best, Diaz has some of the best boxing, cardio and submissions in the game, not to mention an iron chin. But it feels like he’s past his prime now and his best work has come in the lightweight division - but if he can get by Edwards in this welterweight bout, a title shot could be waiting next.
Total rounds: The total rounds for this bout has been set at 4.5 rounds. There’s certainly a good chance this fight goes the distance, just based on how both of these men fight. Edwards prefers to stay out of danger and stick and move from the outside, while Diaz is extremely durable and hard to finish. One thing that is a concern is the scar tissue on Diaz’s face, which makes him more susceptible to cuts, there is a chance Edwards can mark him up and stop him via cut TKO, like the Masvidal fight. Barring a cut stoppage, however, it feels like this fight goes the distance, so we’re leaning towards the over 4.5 rounds.
Betting tips: Leon Edwards/Over 4.5 rounds
Money Talks - Probability vs The Action
Cloudbet's proprietary Money Talks feature offers a direct representation of the odds on an event (the Probability line) and of the action taken so far by Cloudbet - shown by the Money Talks line. It's important to realise that the Money Talks line represents the number of bets taken, not the amount taken from bets so far. The result - we can immediately see if bettors are toeing the odds-implied favoured outcome or not.
For the middleweight title fight, the odds lie heavily in Adesanya's favour, but the money taken by Cloudbet at the time of writing is way more balanced - suggesting there may be value in backing Vettori - as indeed suggested above.
In the flyweight title bout, the Money Talks line on Moreno screams out... it seems Cloudbet bettors are backing him way more than the Probability line suggests they should.
And finally, while the old war horse hasn't been given much hope by the odds, the bettors haven't written off Diaz so easily. He's taken a lot of the action and maybe he has enough in him for one more grab at glory - or maybe it's wishful thinking on the part of long-time UFC fans backing a character that's been around the sport a while.