UFC 263: Israel Adesanya returns to middleweight to defend title against Marvin Vettori

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Undisputed UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya’s next assignment has been officially confirmed, with the Nigerian-born Kiwi set to put his 185-pound title on the line at UFC 263.

Adesanya will take on Italian contender Marvin Vettori in the main event of UFC 263, which will take place at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on May 13.

Adesanya is returning to his natural weight class after his attempt to move up a division and claim the UFC light heavyweight title ended with his first career defeat.

Adesanya was outpointed by Poland’s reigning champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 as he suffered the first blemish on his 21-fight record.

Now the former kickboxing star is heading back down to 185 pounds to face Vettori in a rematch of their bout from April 2018, when both men were middleweight prospects looking to move their way up the UFC ladder.

Adesanya won that bout via split decision and embarked on a run that led him all the way to the middleweight title.

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Vettori, meanwhile, bounced back and has gone unbeaten since that loss. The Italian has won five in a row, and most recently defeated Kevin Holland in April to earn his shot at the gold.

Also on the card is a flyweight title rematch between defending 125-pound champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Mexican challenger Brandon Moreno.

The pair battled to a majority draw at UFC 256 in December in one of the best fights of 2020. During the matchup, Figueiredo was deducted one point in Round 3 after landing a groin strike.

That sanction cost Figueiredo the victory, but wasn’t quite enough to give Moreno the title. Now they’re set to face off for a second time in a bid to reach a satisfactory result.

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Also set for action at UFC 263 are Scottish light heavyweight Paul Craig and Scottish women’s flyweight contender Joanne Calderwood.

Craig takes on fellow rising contender Jamahal Hill, while Calderwood faces off against Lauren Murphy in a fight that could potentially see the winner move on to challenge Valentina Shevchenko for the women’s 125-pound title.

The event will also be held in front of a packed house, with the event set to be the third straight UFC pay-per-view show held in front of a capacity crowd.

UFC 261 saw undisputed welterweight champion Kamaru Usman knock out Jorge Masvidal in front of 15,000 fans at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.

And the UFC’s upcoming pay-per-view event, UFC 262, will also play to a full house when the octagon lands in the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on May 15.

UFC 262 will feature a battle for the lightweight title recently vacated by the retiring Khabib Nurmagomedov, with Brazilian contender Charles Oliveira and former Bellator champion Michael Chandler set to face off in the main event for the undisputed title.

England’s Leon Edwards will take on Nate Diaz in a five-round welterweight co-main event, while former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson returns to action against fellow 155-pound contender Beneil Dariush.

England’s former Commonwealth Games wrestling medallist Mike Grundy is also set for action against American Lando Vannata in a lightweight bout.

UFC 263: Confirmed Fights

  • Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Marvin Vettori (middleweight title)
  • Deiveson Figueiredo (c) vs. Brandon Moreno (flyweight title)
  • Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad
  • Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill
  • Drew Dober vs. Brad Riddell
  • Jake Collier vs. Carlos Felipe
  • Luigi Vendramini vs. Fares Ziam
  • Hakeem Dawodu vs. Movsar Evloev
  • Sijara Eubanks vs. Karol Rosa
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Lauren Murphy
  • Frank Camacho vs. Matt Frevola
  • Chase Hooper vs. Steven Peterson

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