UFC 263 Report: Brandon Moreno wins UFC Flyweight Championship, Adesanya retains

Originally published at UFC 263 Report: Brandon Moreno wins UFC Flyweight Championship

UFC 263 Report: Brandon Moreno wins UFC Flyweight Championship. Adesanya retains title

By: Eric Marcotte

UFC 263 took place on Saturday night, at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The card was headlined by a middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori. The two fought previously in 2018, a fight that Adesanya won by split decision. Since then, Vettori has won five consecutive fights, and an impressive win over Jack Hermansson moved him into title contention at 185lbs. Adesanya was coming into this fight following the first loss of his professional career, to Light Heavyweight Champion Jan BĹ‚achowicz, earlier this year. Despite the loss at 205lbs, Adesanya remains undefeated at middleweight, and he was looking to get back into the win column against Vettori. The other title fight on this card was also a rematch, as UFC Flyweight Champion, Deiveson Figueiredo attempted to defend his title against Brandon Moreno, who he fought to a majority draw in December of 2020. Their last bout was a fight-of-the-year candidate, and without a definitive ending, it made perfect sense to run it back here. In addition to these two title fights, the third-ranked welterweight contender, Leon Edwards, faced a returning Nate Diaz in a five-round bout.

The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Paul Felder. Performance bonuses were awarded to Brandon Moreno and Paul Craig. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Drew Dober and Brad Riddell. The reported attendance for this card was 17,208, with a gate of $4,281,800.00.


*Carlos Felipe def. Jake Collier by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Fares Ziam def. Luigi Vendramini by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)

*Steven Peterson def. Chase Hooper by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

*Terrance McKinney def. Matt Frevola by KO at 0:07 of Round 1

*Pannie Kianzad def. Alexis Davis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

*Movsar Evloev def. Hakeem Dawodu by unanimous decision (29-27 all)

*Lauren Murphy def. Joanne Calderwood by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Eryk Anders def. Darren Stewart by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

*Brad Riddell def. Drew Dober by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Paul Craig def. Jamahal Hill by TKO at 1:59 of Round 1

*Belal Muhammad def. Demian Maia by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

*Leon Edwards def. Nate Diaz by unanimous decision (49-46 all)

*Brandon Moreno def. Deiveson Figueiredo by rear-naked choke at 2:26 of Round 3 to win the UFC Flyweight Championship

*Isreal Adesanya def. Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision (50-45 all) to retain the UFC Middleweight Championship


These guys didn’t waste much time before they started trading some wild shots in the pocket. Collier was throwing out some strong kicks to the body, but Felipe’s punches appeared to have a bit more behind them. Despite Felipe’s heavy hands, Collier was the busier fighter, and his movement appeared to be causing difficulties for Felipe. 10-9 Collier.

Felipe was really playing to the crowd in this second round, taunting, and getting the crowd riled up. Collier appeared to be slowing down somewhat, allowing Felipe to find more success when walking Collier down. It was still a close round, but I thought Felipe was the more effective fighter offensively this time. 19-19.

There were some rather obnoxious fans in attendance that were clearly getting under Paul Felder’s nerves on commentary. Felipe began the final round aggressively, and he easily sprawled on a takedown attempt from Collier. Collier began to rebound as the fight neared its end, which resulted in another close round. 29-28 Felipe on my scorecard.

WINNER: Carlos Felipe by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Collier started off strongly, but he was tired after the first round, and Felipe was able to take the final two rounds on the scorecards. Collier was never out of the fight, but his body language was poor later in the fight, and that never looks good to the judges. Felipe improved to 3-1 in the UFC with this win.


Ziam fended off a takedown in the opening minute. Vendramini was able to time some solid counter hooks but was eating a lot of jabs throughout the round as well. Ziam had the height and reach advantage, and he capitalized on that throughout the round, largely keeping Vendramini on range, countering him on the way in. 10-9 Ziam.

Vendramini continued to search for a takedown in the second round, but Ziam’s defense continued to hold up. The fight was very low on activity, and eventually, the commentators gave up on things and just started discussing Chris Weidman’s remarkable recovery from his injury seven weeks ago. Ziam’s takedown defense continued to hold up. The fans showered the fighters with boos. 20-18 Ziam.

Vendramini landed a huge left hook in the early portion of the third round, and Vendramini was hurt badly. Ziam hounded him, giving Ziam no room to recover, and when Ziam effectively pulled guard, Vendramini immediately followed him to the ground. He controlled the action from top position for a few minutes, but Ziam was eventually able to recover and return to his feet. Vendramini continued to push forward in an attempt to get the finish, but couldn’t land that one big shot to end things before time expired. 29-28 Ziam.

WINNER: Fares Ziam by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)

The vast majority of this fight was rather uneventful, but to his credit, Vendramini knew he was down going into the third, and did his best to get the finish. Ziam’s takedown defense was solid throughout the fight, and it helped him win the first two rounds. Ziam is now 2-1 in the UFC.


Peterson missed weight by 2.5lbs and was fined 20% of his purse.

Peterson was loading up with some big strikes early. Hooper attempted to change levels, but Peterson was able to defend his attempts. Peterson followed Hooper to the ground, and punished him with strong elbows from Hooper’s guard, before eventually returning to his feet. Hooper immediately took Peterson back down after they got back to their feet, and he started to hunt for a heel hook. Peterson was willing to grapple with Hooper, but I feel as though Hooper got the better of their grappling exchanges late in the round. 10-9 Peterson.

Shortly after the start of the second round, Hooper landed a solid left hand, threw up a head kick, and then shot for a takedown. Peterson defended the initial attempt and landed some strong elbows. Hooper pulled guard, but that ultimately resulted in him losing the remainder of this round from the bottom. 20-18 Peterson.

Peterson landed a superman punch to begin the third round. The commentator stated that he faked a glove touch, and the crowd was certainly unimpressed with Peterson. They wrestled in the clinch against the cage, and Peterson took Hooper down. Hooper worked his way back to his feet late in the round and proceeded to secure a takedown of his own, taking Peterson’s back with a minute left. Hooper was unable to secure a late finish, and the fight went the distance. 30-27 Peterson.

WINNER: Steven Peterson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Peterson was the physically stronger fighter, and despite spending the majority of the fight in Hoopers area of comfort, Peterson was able to control the action. He landed the stronger strikes on the feet, and with the exception of a calf slicer attempt from Hooper in the first, this was a pretty dominant performance from Peterson. Peterson is now 3-3 in the UFC.


Less than five seconds after the start of the fight, McKinney landed a 1-2 that dropped Frevola, and he immediately followed him to the ground, finishing him with hammer fists.

WINNER: Terrance McKinney by KO at 0:07 of Round 1

McKinney appeared to injure his knee in his post-fight celebration, but that aside, this was a spectacular debut for Terrance McKinney. This was the fastest knockout in the history of the UFC’s lightweight division, and remarkably, this was McKinney’s fourth fight of the year that ended in less than two minutes. Rogan shut down McKinney’s request to share his story on Rogan’s podcast in the future.


Kianzad began the fight with a left hand. The pace of the fight slowed down quickly, but Kianzad remained a step ahead on the feet. She had a clear speed advantage over Davis on the feet and landed some solid counters throughout the first five minutes. Davis was slightly more active, but I didn’t think her offense was quite as effective. 10-9 Kianzad.

Davis began to throw leg kicks in the second round, and they began to have an effect on Kianzad’s movement as the round progressed. Kianzad was still landing the better punches, but this was a tougher round to score than the first. Davis cut Kianzad open, and mixed in some solid body kicks as well. I gave the edge to Davis in this round. 19-19.

Davis’s corner stressed to their fighter that she needed a finish in this third round. She went right back to that calf kick, and Kianzad’s output had really waned by this point in the fight. This was another close round, and neither fighter really had that big moment to secure them the round, but I thought Kianzad did just enough to take this final round. 29-28 Kianzad.

WINNER: Pannie Kianzad by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Despite what the scorecards may have indicated here, this was about as close of a fight as you’ll see. Both fighters had a similar output each round, and neither had a significant moment of damage nor control that would have earned them a round either. Kianzad has now won four consecutive fights, and she called out Raquel Pennington in her post-fight interview.


Evloev landed a strong overhand right in the opening minute. Dawodu showcased strong takedown defense, but Evloev eventually dragged him down. Evloev took his back and went after the rear-naked choke. Dawodu was able to defend the submission attempts from Evloev, however, he was unable to shake him off of his back until the final seconds of the round. 10-9 Evloev.

Evloev immediately took Dawodu back down to begin the second. Evloev’s pace was impressive, and Dawodu was given absolutely no room to make something happen. Evloev controlled every second of this round, and he was clearly up on the scorecards. 20-18 Evloev.

The first minutes of the third round took place entirely on the feet, with both fighters defending takedown attempts. This was far and away Dawodu’s best round of the fight, starting with a left hook that he landed following a body shot. In the final minute, Dawodu landed a few more of those left hands, and they hurt Evloev, but Evloev had it in him to change levels, secure a takedown, and ride out the remainder of the round. 29-28 Evloev.

WINNER: Movsar Evloev by unanimous decision (29-27 all)

Dawodu rallied in the final round, but it was too little too late against Evloev, who was up big on the scorecards heading into the third. Dawodu showcased his abilities late, but this was by and large a dominant performance for Movsar Evloev, who remains undefeated, and improved to 5-0 in the UFC with this win.


Calderwood connected with a spinning back fist early. Murphy attempted to engage Calderwood in the clinch against the cage, to limited success. They exchanged straight right hands, and Calderwood landed a series of elbows in the clinch. Calderwood ended the round with another spinning back fist. 10-9 Calderwood.

Murphy chased after a single leg and was successful in dragging Calderwood down. Murphy was able to maintain top position, trapping Calderwood in an uncomfortable position. She wasn’t able to do a ton of damage of threatening any submissions, but she definitely won this round, likely tying up the score heading into the third. 19-19.

Calderwood was able to keep the fight on the feet throughout this final round. It was a competitive fight on the feet, but Calderwood had the slight edge when striking from the outside. Calderwood landed a number of knees to the body in the clinch, and Murphy’s body language betrayed her on labored takedown attempts. I scored this fight 29-28 for Calderwood.

WINNER: Lauren Murphy by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

This was a very close fight, that likely came down to the opening round. I thought Calderwood did enough to earn that round, but two of the judges disagreed, and Murphy ultimately got her hand raised. Now on a five-fight win streak, Murphy will likely be next in line to challenge Valentina Shevchenko for the division’s championship. She will be an astronomical underdog going into that fight, but with a 6-1 record in the UFC at flyweight, she has certainly earned the opportunity to challenge Shevchenko.


This was a rematch of a fight from March that ended in a no-contest following an illegal knee from Anders.

There was not much activity from either fighter early in this one. They wrestled against the cage for the majority of the round, with neither man having much success. In the final minute, Stewart was finally able to take Anders down, and as that was the only successful moment of offense from either fighter all round, I gave Stewart the opening round. 10-9 Stewart.

They quickly returned to the clinch against the cage in the second round. They were eventually separated after a long period of inactivity, but they quickly found themselves in the same position. Anders landed the better shots in the clinch throughout the round, so I scored this one for him. If you told me that you had this fight scored 20-20 going into the third, I would not argue with you. 19-19 on my scorecard.

Stewart was able to take Anders down early in the third round, but Anders was able to reverse the position and began to work from side control. Anders was able to land some strong ground and pound late in the round and was almost close to a stoppage in the final minute, but this one went the distance.

WINNER: Eryk Anders by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

A dreadful fight. Anders was able to turn it on late to secure the decision, and there really isn’t much else to say about this one. Anders has now compiled a record of 6-5 (1 NC) in the UFC, and Stewart fell to a record of 5-7 (2 NC) in the promotion.

DREW DOBER (23-10, 1 NC, 154) VS BRAD RIDDELL (9-1, 155) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Riddell tagged Dober with a strong left to begin the fight. Both fighters were landing some heavy hooks, but it was Dober who landed a straight left hand that wobbled Riddell. Riddell changed levels, and while has unable to take Dober down, he was able to relieve the pressure and recover against the cage. They eventually broke apart, and went right back to exchanging hard shots in the pocket. A right hook from Dober cut Riddell open on the left side of his forehead, and he responded with a strong counter left. This was a very entertaining round, and Riddell ended strongly with a series of right hands. 10-9 Dober.

They wasted no time in going right back to wildly trading shots. Riddell’s right hook couldn’t miss, but Dober’s chin was made of iron. Dober actually shot for a takedown of his own, which Riddell was able to pick himself up from. Dober immediately landed another strong left hand that convinced Riddell to shoot for a successful takedown. Dober escaped, and they continued to exchange strong punches for the remainder of a very close round. 19-19.

Riddell’s accuracy continued to impress, and Dober shot for another takedown after being clipped with a few more right hands. Riddell defended the attempt, as the fight continued on the feet. Dober landed a strong left hook, which Riddell responded to with a body shot. Riddell defended another takedown attempt, and they separated with ninety seconds remaining in the round. Riddell rocked Dober with a right hand towards the end of the round, but Dober was able to survive, and Riddell ended the round on top. 29-28 Riddell.

WINNER: Brad Riddell by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

I can hardly believe that this fight went the distance. Both fighters were landing bombs from the opening minute, but somehow neither man went down once. Dober had Riddell in huge trouble early in the first, but as the fight wore on, Riddell was able to time his counter right hook to the point in which it felt automatic. Riddell is now 4-0 in the UFC, and will likely move into the lightweight rankings when they are updated.

PAUL CRAIG (14-4-1, 204.5) VS JAMAHAL HILL (8-0, 1 NC, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

This fight opened up the PPV portion of this card.

Hill was able to defend Craig’s first takedown attempt of the fight but got pulled into Craig’s guard. Craig trapped Hill’s arm in a nasty armbar, and it looked as though he may have broken it. Trapped in Craig’s triangle with a broken arm, Hill couldn’t do anything to stop Craig’s onslaught of elbows and hammer fists off of his back, and the fight was eventually stopped.

WINNER: Paul Craig by TKO at 1:59 of Round 1

Hill’s arm was flopping around for far too long before the fight was finally stopped. This was a brutal finish, and it was later reported that his arm was dislocated. This was a phenomenal win for Craig, who is now on a three-fight winning streak and remains a very dangerous opponent regardless of who’s across the octagon from him. Despite the tough loss here, Hill remains one of the top prospects at 205lbs, and hopefully, he’ll rebound strongly from this one.

DEMIAN MAIA (28-10, 170.5) VS BELAL MUHAMMAD (18-3, 1 NC, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT

This marked the 43-year-old Demian Maia’s 33rd fight in the UFC.

Muhammad defended an early trio of takedowns from Maia, but Maia eventually got him seated down against the cage. Muhammad got back to his feet and was able to shake Maia off of him. Maia continued to search for a takedown, however, Muhammad’s defense held up, and Maia was unable to take the fight to his comfort zone. A somewhat difficult round to score, as Muhammad was unable to get off much of his own offense despite largely shutting down Maia. 10-9 Maia.

Maia began to let loose a bit with his hands, as he continued to have difficulties taking Muhammad down. Muhammad landed a left hand, and Maia responded with one of his own. As Maia began to slow down, Muhammad began to go on the attack, and he continued to showcase terrific takedown defense until the end of the round. 19-19.

Muhammad cracked Maia with a straight right. Maia continued to hunt for that takedown, but he just could not get Muhammad down with his single leg attempts. Maia wasn’t completely devoid of offense throughout the round though, landing some straight left hands. Muhammad landed the better strikes, however, and I scored this final round for him. 29-28 Muhammad.

WINNER: Belal Muhammad by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Win or lose, very few people look good against Demian Maia. This was far from a fun fight, but Muhammad showcased fantastic takedown defense and got the win against a legend of the sport. Muhammad has won nine of his last eleven fights, and with this win, he will likely move into the top ten of the division.

Maia flirted with the idea of this being his retirement bout, but seemed as though he wanted one more fight after this one during fight week interviews. If this is truly the end for Maia however, he will leave behind a remarkable legacy as a true legend and representative of Brazilian Jiujitsu in MMA. Maia has fought the highest quality of opponents since debuting in the UFC in 2007 and challenged for two UFC titles at Middleweight and Welterweight respectively. If this marks Maia’s final fight, he will retire with a professional record of 28-11.

LEON EDWARDS (18-3, 1 NC, 170.5) VS NATE DIAZ (20-12, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT

Nate Diaz received a hero’s welcome from the crowd on his way to the octagon. He taunted Edwards throughout the first minute and attacked at awkward angles. Edwards began to throw out leg kicks, which were quickly having an effect on Nate. Diaz responded with kicks of his own but ate a straight left, as well as another leg kick. Edwards was able to take Diaz down and quickly took his back. Nate did a good job of keeping Edwards from doing anything of significance before the end of the round. 10-9 Edwards.

Edwards continued to damage Diaz with heavy leg kicks. They exchanged right hands as Nate continued to taunt. Both men landed leg kicks, but Edwards had a bit more behind them. Edwards re-engaged Nate in the clinch against the cage and dragged him back to the ground. Diaz was able to threaten a heel hook which allowed him to get back to his feet. Edwards landed another strong leg kick, as well as a left hand. They traded left hands before the end of the round. 20-18 Edwards.

Edwards loaded up with a vicious elbow to begin the third round, and he followed it up with a hard left hand. Nate’s lead leg had taken a lot of damage by this point in the fight. They wrestled in the clinch, and Edwards recorded another takedown. Edwards cut Diaz open with some elbows on the ground, before letting him stand up. Diaz was bleeding heavily and slapped away a glove touch from Edwards. Edwards took Diaz back down to end the round. 30-27 Edwards.

Diaz was wobbled by a left hand from Edwards about a minute into the fourth. He recovered quickly, but Edwards was really starting to bully him in there. Edwards kept connecting with that left hand, and Diaz was having trouble getting his own offense off in this round. Edwards re-opened Nate’s cut with another sharp elbow. 40-36 Edwards.

Diaz landed an elbow of his own out of a clinch exchange but ate a strong left hand in return. Diaz landed a strong left hand, perhaps his best strike of the fight. Edwards landed a pair of kicks and followed it up with a trio of left hands. With a minute remaining in the round, Diaz hurt Edwards badly with a strong left hand, and Leon’s legs gave out from under him. Diaz knew this was his moment, and began to flurry forward, landing a number of shots as Edwards was just trying to survive. Edwards was able to go the distance, but this was a fantastic ending to the fight for Nate Diaz. 49-46 Edwards.

WINNER: Leon Edwards by unanimous decision (49-46 all)

Edwards won twenty-four minutes of this fight, but Nate almost pulled off an incredible comeback in the final minute. Edwards looked great for the vast majority of the fight, and this five-round fight was surely beneficial to him given his long period of inactivity prior to this year. Edwards is now riding a ten-fight unbeaten streak, which has been active since his loss to Kamaru Usman in 2015. It could very well be time to run that fight back, which will surely be the hope of Leon Edwards. For Diaz, he was the sizeable underdog going into this fight but almost pulled off the upset in the final minute. Despite losing three of his last four fights, I think it would be fair to say that Nate Diaz’s name value remains as high as ever.


Figueiredo and Moreno fought to a majority draw in December of 2020.

They touched gloves to begin the championship rematch. Moreno attacked the legs of Figueiredo, and kept him at distance with his sharp jab. Figueiredo landed a few body shots but wasn’t throwing much out throughout the early portion of this round. Moreno was looking very good early here, and Figueiredo’s output was at an all-time low. Moreno dropped Figueiredo hard with a jab as he stepped in, but Figueiredo was able to recover before the end of the round.

Figueiredo was able to take Moreno down following a quick exchange on the feet. Figueiredo controlled Moreno for a short period of time, but Moreno was able to pop back up and recorded a takedown of his own. Moreno spent the remainder of the round in Figueiredo’s guard, and despite being caught with some elbows from Figueiredo, I gave this round to Moreno as well.

Figueiredo went back to the body in the third round, but his success didn’t last for long. Moreno was able to take Figueiredo down, easily took his back, and he locked in the rear-naked choke. The choke was locked in tight, forcing Figueiredo to tap out.

WINNER: Brandon Moreno by rear-naked choke at 2:26 of Round 3 to win the UFC Flyweight Championship

This was an incredible moment for Brandon Moreno, who is now the first Mexican-born champion in UFC history. Moreno fought an excellent fight, and he never allowed Figueiredo to get going, something the fewest of fighters have managed to accomplish. Moreno was overcome with emotion once his accomplishment set in, and Figueiredo came off as incredibly classy following the result. Moreno has always been an easy fighter to root for, and Moreno’s post-fight interview was one of those few beautiful moments in the sport. In all likelihood, these two fighters will meet again one day, and I will be excited to see how their third meeting shapes up down the road.


This was a rematch of a fight from April of 2018. Adesanya won that fight by split decision.

Unlike Moreno and Figueiredo, there was no glove touch to begin this one. They swapped leg kicks until Vettori caught one from Adesanya and took him down. Adesanya was able to pick himself up, and they broke apart. Adesanya continued to throw out that leg kick and dodged a number of punches from Vettori. Adesanya began to let loose with his offense late in the round, throwing a beautiful combination that he ended with a head kick. Close round, but I gave to Adesanya.

Adesanya landed strong counters early in the second round, but they did not deter Vettori from moving forward in the slightest. Adesanya was able to stop a takedown attempt from Vettori, and the entirety of the round took place on the feet. Adesanya appeared to be comfortable dodging Vettori’s strikes against the cage, and Vettori was having trouble landing, despite a solid amount of offensive output. 20-18 Adesanya.

Vettori immediately took Adesanya down to begin the third round. Vettori was able to take Adesanya’s back, but Adesanya was able to get back to his feet following a rear-naked choke attempt. Adesanya landed a lead uppercut and a pair of strong leg kicks following a brief pause due to an eye poke to Vettori. Adesanya grounded Vettori with a leg kick in the final minute, and then a last-second kick to the groin delayed the ending of the round. 30-27 Adesanya.

I didn’t hear what Vettori told his corner between rounds, but Jon Anik suggested that he may have sounded slightly delusional. Vettori was able to get Adesanya down again, but Adesanya immediately escaped to his feet. Adesanya kept attacking Vettori’s lead leg, and Vettori’s output had greatly diminished. Vettori landed a combination of punches against the cage, before shooting for another takedown that was ultimately defended. 40-36 Adesanya.

Vettori chased after another takedown to begin the fifth and final round, to no success. Adesanya taunted Vettori, and did not appear to be worried in the slightest by Vettori’s offense. Vettori continued to pursue a takedown but just couldn’t drag Adesanya back to the ground. They were separated from the cage with less than a minute remaining, and Adesanya was active enough throughout this final minute to secure the final round. 50-45 Adesanya.

WINNER: Isreal Adesanya by unanimous decision (50-45 all) to retain the UFC Middleweight Championship

Adesanya controlled this fight on the feet and was largely able to avoid Vettori’s attempts to take the fight to the ground. Vettori apparently fought he won the fight, but with all due respect, it would be impossible to justify giving Vettori multiple rounds, let alone the entire fight. Coming off of his first professional loss, this was a very solid rebound for Adesanya, who reminded everybody why he is the UFC Middleweight Champion. Adesanya called out Robert Whittaker in his post-fight interview, suggesting that they fight in Auckland this time. I think that’s the only sensible fight to make right now, although I wouldn’t be shocked if the UFC went in a different direction.

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