Two world titles will be on the line when the UFC returns to action this weekend for UFC 263.
Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will defend his belt against Marvin Vettori, a man who nearly beat him three years ago in the same venue. In the co-main event, the UFC flyweight belt is on the line as Deiveson Figueiredo defends his belt for the second consecutive time against no. 1 contender Brandon Moreno in a rematch of their first bout that ended in a draw. Leon Edwards also battles Nate Diaz in a welterweight title eliminator.
But before these big names hit the Octagon, an interesting prelims undercard will precede the show. Let’s take a look at the fights in the prelims undercard of UFC 263.
Drew Dober is the 13th ranked lightweight in the UFC. The 32-year old also competed for Bellator and Titan Fighting Championship. He has been fighting in the UFC since 2013 and he has won six out of his last eight bouts. Dober is a southpaw who stands 5-8 tall with a reach of 70 inches. He is coming off a submission loss to Islam Makhachev and has a record of 23-10 with 10 knockouts and six submission wins.
Brad Riddell is a former Wollongong Wars welterweight champion who joined the UFC in 2019. He is undefeated in three Octagon appearances and is coming off a decision win over Alex da Silva Coelho last September. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 71 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. Riddell is 9-1 with five knockouts.
These are two skilled, powerful, and durable stand-up fighters going at each other. Dober has legit kickboxing experience which makes him the favorite in what should be a stand-up affair. Riddell is a slow starter but since he is durable, he should be able to withstand Dober’s power until he gets going. Once he does that, his more accurate combinations should be the key to winning this bout. This should be entertaining but I like the value of Riddell here.
Prediction: Brad Riddell +129
Eryk Anders is a former LFA middleweight champion who joined the UFC in 2017. The 34-year old is a former NCAA football player from the University of Alabama who also fought for Bellator and Valor Fights. He has two wins in his last seven bouts and has an overall record of 13-5 with 8 knockouts and one submission victory. Anders is 6-1 tall with a reach of 75 inches and fights out of the southpaw stance.
Darren Stewart is a veteran of Cage Warriors and a former Killacam Promotions light heavyweight champion. The 30-year old from England has a UFC record of 5-6 with one no-contest. Overall, Stewart is 12-6 with seven knockouts and one submission victory. He is six feet tall with a reach of 74 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Anders almost put Stewart away the first time out before that illegal knee forced the no-contest. There’s a chance that what happened in the first fight will take place again on Saturday night. But when you look at their fight records, Stewart has been the more consistent fighter. Not only does he possess more punching power but Stewart may be more durable. I think Stewart survives the early onslaught and puts up a resilient fight to win on points.
Prediction: Darren Stewart +130
Lauren Murphy is the no. 3 ranked female flyweight in the UFC. The 37-year old from Anchorage, Alaska is a former Invicta FC bantamweight champion who has won her last four UFC bouts and five of her last six overall. Murphy is 14-4 with 8 knockouts and 1 submission win. She is 5-5 tall with a reach of 67 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.
Joanne Calderwood is currently ranked 6th in the UFC women’s flyweight division. The 34-year old from Irvine, Scotland won her first nine UFC bouts but is just 6-5 in her last 11 outings. Calderwood is coming off a win over Jessica Eye at UFC 257 and she has a record of 15-5 with five knockouts and one submission win. She is 5-6 tall with a reach of 65 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Calderwood’s crisp combinations and wider arsenal should help her in a striking contest against Murphy’s gritty boxing. Calderwood’s wrestling has improved to the point that Murphy won’t have an easy time if she wants to grind out a win. For as long as Calderwood doesn’t fall prey to grappling with Murphy, she has more than enough weapons on her feet to outpoint Murphy. This could go either way, but I’ll go with Calderwood.
Prediction: Joanne Calderwood -141
Movsar Evloev is currently ranked 14th in the UFC featherweight division. The 27-year old Russian is a former M-1 Global bantamweight champion. Evloev joined the UFC in 2019 and is undefeated in four UFC assignments. In his last bout, he scored a split decision win over Nick Lentz and has a record of 14-0 with three knockout and four submission wins. He is 5-7 tall with a reach of 72 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Hakeem Dawodu is the 15th ranked featherweight in the UFC. The 29-year old Canadian is a former Muay Thai champion. Dawodu lost his UFC debut against Danny Henry but has won his last five Octagon bouts. He has a record of 12-1 with seven knockouts. Dawodu is 5-8 tall with a 73-inch reach and fights as an orthodox fighter.
Dawodu is the more superior striker between these two and he will be the best stand-up fighter that Evloev has ever faced. Evloev is still developing as a striker and he does not have enough pop in his punches to exploit Dawodu’s inferior striking defense. I think this is closer than what the odds say. Given Dawodu’s value, I’ll pick him to pull off the upset with body shots and low kicks that will push Evloev back.
Prediction: Dawodu +180
Pannie Kianzad is the no. 11 female bantamweight in the UFC. The 29-year old Iranian-born Swedish mixed martial artist is a former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion who also fought for Invicta FC. After losing her UFC debut, she was won three straight bouts and has a record of 14-5 with three knockouts. Kianzad is 5-7 tall with a 66-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.
Alexis Davis is a former UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger. The 36-year old is the first Canadian to fight in the UFC. Davis is a former RW women’s bantamweight champion and is just 3-3 in her last six bouts with an overall record of 20-2 with 2 knockouts and eight submission wins. She is 5-6 tall with a reach of 68 inches and is an orthodox fighter.
Davis used a relentless leg kick to defeat a superior striker in her last bout. But Kianzad has a considerable size advantage over Davis and should be able to keep her at bay while peppering her with a consistent jab. Davis might want to take this fight to the ground but Kianzad isn’t an easy woman to put down on her back. Davis’ leg kicks could be a problem here but for as long as Kianzad maintains her distance, she should win a striking contest.
Prediction: Pannie Kianzad -200
Matt Frevola is a veteran of WSOF and Titan FC. The 30-year old from New York joined the UFC in 2018 after appearing in the Contender Series the year before. Frevola is 2-2 with one draw in the UFC and he has an overall record of 8-2 with one knockout and three submission wins. He is 5-9 tall with a 71-inch reach and fights as an orthodox fighter.
Terrance McKinney is a veteran of CageSport and LFA. The 26-year old appeared in season 3 of the Contender Series but lost to Sean Woodson. McKinney has won three straight bouts via first-round KO and has a record of 10-3 with four knockouts and six submission wins. He is a switch hitter who stands 5-10 tall with a 73-inch reach.
McKinney took this fight on short notice after Frank Camacho was injured in a car accident this week. The 26-year old has decent punching power and has some slick submission skills. Frevola however, has good enough wrestling to hold his own on the ground against McKinney. He also is durable enough to survive a slugfest if that’s what McKinney wants. I see Frevola mixing up takedowns and brawling to give McKinney different looks. I like Frevola to score a late stoppage.
Prediction: Matt Frevola -280
Chase Hooper is the youngest fighter ever to sign with the UFC. The now 21-year old from Washington is a former Dominate FC featherweight champion. Hooper earned his UFC ticket via the Contender Series although he fought for CFFC and Titan FC before joining the UFC. He has a record of 10-3 with three knockouts and five submission wins. Hooper is a southpaw who is 6-1 tall with a 74-inch reach.
Steven Peterson is fought under LFA and Bellator before joining the UFC. The 31-year old Californian is just 2-3 inside the Octagon but is coming off a win over Martin Bravo. Peterson has a record of 18-9 with five knockouts and eight submission wins. He is 5-10 tall with a 70-inch reach and is an orthodox fighter.
Peterson likes to move forward and he has solid wrestling skills. He also looks to have enough in his gas tank to put the pressure on Hooper, whose striking defense is suspect. I think that Peterson is just going to march forward and throw his bombs here. Hooper might want to take him down but Peterson is good enough to get back on his feet. Ultimately, Peterson will beat him in the standup. I don’t think there will be a stoppage here but Peterson wins by a mile.
Prediction: Peterson -123
Carlos Felipe joined the UFC as an unbeaten fighter. After losing his UFC debut against Sergey Spivak, he’s beaten Yorgan de Castro and Justin Tafa. Felipe is 10-1 with six knockouts and is an orthodox fighter who is six feet tall with a 75-inch reach.
Jake Collier is a former RFA middleweight champion. The 32-year old from St. Louis, Missouri is coming off a win over Gian Villante and has a record of 12-5 with five knockouts and three submission wins. He is an orthodox fighter who is 6-3 tall with a 78-inch reach.
Collier has striking versatility and a deep gas tank that could pose a problem for Felipe. However, the Brazilian also boasts of an impressive cardio and very good punching power. These should help him keep up with Collier and break him down late in the fight. No doubt, Collier is less predictable. But Felipe will walk through Collier’s offense and use his pressure fighting to produce a late finish.
Prediction: Carlos Felipe -170
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