Israel Adesanya successfully defended his middleweight Ultimate Fighting Championship title on Sunday morning, beating Italian Marvin Vettori in the main event of UFC 263 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Adesanya put up a dominant display over Vettori, winning 50-45 on all of the judges cards.
Adesanya and Vettori first did battle in 2018, with the Nigerian winning via a split decision in just his second trip to the Octagon.
The win is Adesanya’s third title defence after losing to Jan Blachowicz in a bid to add the light heavyweight title to his laurels.
Vettori believed he won his 2018 clash with Adesanya and never stopped calling for a rematch with the man who would go on to become UFC middleweight champion.
He got his rematch on Sunday in the main event of UFC 263 and came up empty, with Adesanya taking a clear decision victory in Arizona.
Adesanya showed improvements on his ground work as he expertly untangled himself from all of Vettori’s takedowns.
Renowned as one of the best strikers in the division, the 31-year-old landed several leg shots and jabs as he dimmed Vettori’s dream of becoming the first Italian UFC champion.
Vettori had only a few successful moments in the fight, scoring with a handful of takedowns, but Adesanya showcased improved grappling skills as he escaped back to his feet every time, including spinning out of a rear-naked choke attempt to end up in top position. Outside of those fleeting moments for Vettori, the fight was all Adesanya’s as he worked Vettori over with a steady diet of leg kicks.
In the end, Adesanya took every round on all three official scorecards, winning by scores of 50-45 across the board.
Moreno dethrones Figueiredo
The co-main event was another title fight, and Brandon Moreno took his chance dethroning Deiveson Figueiredo as the flyweight king by submission in the third round of their title fight to become Mexico’s first UFC champion.
Moreno dominated the first round, dropping the champion and landing several heavy punches and leg kicks.
But Figueiredo asserted his authority in the second round with an early takedown but Moreno handled his time on the ground and got his own take down.
Their first fight had ended in a draw but Moreno ensured he got the job done in the second round, this time around.
Craig vs Hill
Earlier, Scotland’s Paul Craig defeated highly-rated Jamahal Hill in the light heavyweight category.
Craig beat his American opponent via TKO, breaking Hill’s right hand after holding him down on the mat.
The loss is Hill’s first loss in the MMA, while Craig extends his unbeaten run to five in the UFC.
Maia vs Muhammad
In the welterweight category, Belal Muhammad secured the 10th win of his UFC career with a unanimous decision win over 43-year-old Demian Maia (30-27, 29- 28, 29-28).
Maia attacked Muhammad’s legs in all three rounds, recording just one successful take down.
The win takes Muhammad to ninth in the welterweight ranking.
Edwards vs Diaz
Undefeated since his 2015 loss to Nigerian Kamaru Usman, Leon Edwards beat Nate Diaz in the “Battle of The Southpaw” in a fight rated as one of the top performance of the day, winning 49-46, 49-46, 49-46 on all of the judges card.
An elbow to the face in the third round after a successful take-down by Edwards left American Diaz bloodied.
Edwards landed over 65 per cent of his significant shots and successfully achieved four take-down attempts.
Diaz gave Edwards a late scare in the fifth round after landing two devastating punches with 50 seconds to go but the Brit held on for the victory.
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The win takes Edwards closer to a rematch with Usman.
In the other fights before the Main Card, Terrance McKinney recorded a first-round victory over Matt Frevola, knocking out his opponent with seven seconds left in the first round, while Steven Peterson outclassed Chase Hooper via unanimous decision.
Fares Ziam also defeated Luigi Vendramini via a majority decision (29-28 x2, 28-28), with Carlos Felipe overcoming Jake Collier via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).
Also, Movsar Evloev defeated Hakeem Dawodu, who has a Nigerian mother, via unanimous decision (29-27 x3).
In other prelims, Pannie Kianzad defeated Alexis Davis via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28); Lauren Murphy beat Joanne Calderwood via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29); Brad Riddell triumphed over Drew Dober through a unanimous decision (29-28 x3) and Eryk Anders beat Darren Stewart via unanimous decision (29-27 x2, 29-28).