UFC 263 takeaways: Brandon Moreno poised to be a star, Israel … Sun, 13 Jun 2021 00:00:00 +0100-The win that Leon Edwards had to have was earned, but the spotlight he needed stayed on Nate Diaz, instead.
Poor Leon Edwards.
You see, the record books will forever state Edwards beat Nate Diaz on Saturday night via unanimous decision. The highlight reels will reveal Edwards dominated Diaz for the majority of their 25-minute fight. Edwards cut up Diaz. He made Diaz bleed. He roughed Diaz up.
That's all very accurate, by the way.
In doing so, Edwards extended his unbeaten streak to 10. He seemingly punched his ticket to a title shot.
And yet, in the court of public opinion, which often counts for more in the fight game, it feels like Diaz won that UFC 263 fight in Glendale, Arizona.
Why? Because after getting beat up for 24 minutes, Diaz rocked Edwards with a left. Diaz pointed at Edwards, he mocked him, he rocked him some more — but then Diaz ran out of time.
Another minute and Diaz could have potentially finished Edwards. Had Diaz done so, it would have been one of the wildest things this sport has ever witnessed. It would have vaulted Diaz, the icon, the superstar, the needle mover, into another stratosphere. But alas, he ran out of time.
Still, it was Diaz who was celebrating after the judges' scorecards were read. It was Diaz who received the standing ovation and cheers from the crowd. It was Diaz who was the talk of social media afterward.
Leon Edwards dominates the early rounds, and Nate Diaz attempts to rally with a big punch late, but Edwards ultimately comes away with the win.
It was a cruel twist of fate for Edwards, who has no issues winning fights but many issues connecting with fans. He needed to a strong finish on Saturday night, and unfortunately, he didn't get it.
But for the UFC, this was kind of perfect:
Diaz holds onto his star power and leaves us wanting more. He remains must-see TV.
Edwards earns his title shot — because make no mistake about it, Edwards should fight for the belt next. (And Diaz doesn't need a title shot; he's bigger than that.)
But I think Diaz's late flurry canceled those plans.
So, after Usman fights Covington, Edwards will either face Usman — the last man to defeat Edwards, way back in 2015 — or Covington, who has been talking smack about Edwards for the past couple of years. It doesn't matter who is next, though. All that matters is that Edwards finally gets what he deserves, which is a title shot, despite how Saturday's fight ended.
Edwards just beat up one of the most popular and talented fighters in UFC history. He thoroughly dominated Diaz for the vast majority of five rounds. Edwards should have fought for the belt already. He also owes Diaz a thank-you.
You see, Diaz didn't have to pick Edwards as his next foe. And, yeah, you had better believe Diaz picked Edwards, not the other way around.
Diaz was impressed with Edwards' winning streak and skill set. Diaz wanted the toughest guy in the division, not the biggest name. Just the toughest with the longest winning streak. How many other fighters would do that? Very, very few.
In a day and age when fighters are squatting on their rankings spot while attempting to perfectly craft their trajectory to a title shot, Diaz is a reminder of how this sport and promotion used to operate: the best fighting the best; the toughest fighting the toughest. Rankings be damned.
Diaz could have fought anyone — a top-15 fighter or an unranked fighter — in his return. He still would have been the most popular fighter on the UFC 263 card, and he still would have been featured on the pay-per-view.
Leon Edwards breaks down his performance after beating Nate Diaz via unanimous decision at UFC 263.
And yet, he went this route. And as a result, he helped propel Edwards to the spot he needs to be to earn a title shot next. To steal a wrestling phrase, Diaz helped put Edwards over.
Of course, that wasn't Diaz's intention. He obviously wanted to win the fight. But that final minute is precisely why people will continue to love him despite losing four of five rounds to Edwards.
In a nutshell, those final seconds are all you need to see to understand why, despite his somewhat pedestrian 21-13 record, Diaz will remain a superstar in this sport from now until the day he finally hangs up his gloves for good, whenever that time might come.
Edwards needed that W more than Diaz. He got it. Good on him.
But Diaz won the fans over. Again. Like only he can.
UFC 263 – Leon Edwards won the fight; Nathan Diaz won the night Sun, 13 Jun 2021 00:00:00 +0100-Brandon Moreno's upset victory over Deiveson Figueiredo stole the show, but middleweight champion Israel Adesanya's performance wasn't far behind.
Rematches were the theme of the title fights at UFC 263 on Saturday in Glendale, Arizona. Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya faced Marvin Vettori, looking for a more definitive victory than the split decision he won in their first fight in 2018. Deiveson Figueiredo aimed to prove that a trip to the hospital before the night of their first flyweight title fight was the only reason why Brandon Moreno came close to beating him before both fighters settled for a majority draw.
Adesanya was successful, earning a clear, decisive victory over Vettori to focus the spotlight on his dominance at 185 pounds. His attack on Vettori's lead leg and takedown defense kept him one step ahead of his opponent.
The other champion wasn't so lucky. Figueiredo lost to Moreno in a brilliant performance for the new Mexican flyweight champion. Sure, Nate Diaz's late rally against Leon Edwards had the arena buzzing, but it was Moreno's victory that brought the emotions in the building to a new level. In the Octagon with his family and his new UFC championship, Moreno, with tears in his eyes, poured his heart out, and a new star in the sport was born.
Marc Raimondi, Jeff Wagenheim and Brett Okamoto react to the top two fights at UFC 263.
Moreno is the perfect champion to put Mexico on the MMA map
Raimondi: Moreno is now the first-ever Mexican-born UFC champion, and the promotion could not have asked for a better one. He's incredibly likeable, has a unique charisma and an underdog spirit that one cannot help but root for.
I was surprised with the reactions Moreno, who is relatively new to the spotlight, was getting this week in Phoenix. But the city, which has a large Mexican-American population, quickly embraced him. He was getting cheers at the news conference and weigh-ins at a level that was not far off from much more established stars such as Diaz and Adesanya. And by winning at UFC 263 and becoming champion, he seems well positioned to become a viable headliner in the Southwest and California.
More importantly, this is a huge deal for the UFC in Mexico. Moreno is from Tijuana, and his Entram gym there is in a boom period since he started to have success in the Octagon. Him being champion should only take that to the next level. Mexico is still a boxing country — and it likely always will be — but it's also a country with people who love and appreciate combat sports. “Mexican style” is a real thing, and Moreno embodies that. He never stops coming forward and he's a finisher. He showed that against the very dangerous Figueiredo on Saturday night.
Moreno has all the ingredients — from fighting style to personality — to be the UFC's first Mexican-born superstar. Cain Velasquez was a massive deal in Mexico, even though he was born in the United States. I've been with Velasquez in Mexico City, and he can't walk around there without people flocking to him for photos or autographs. That's what the future could look like for Moreno, perhaps even bigger. And by young Mexican athletes seeing what he has done, more could choose MMA over boxing. The possibilities are endless, and the UFC has to be incredibly excited about what the future could hold in that key market.
Moreno's game plan executed to perfection
Wagenheim: The narrative coming out of the first meeting between Moreno and Figueiredo was that the draw came about only because of a foul by the champion, that Figueiredo would have won the December bout if not for losing a point to a third-round low blow. One judge even scored the fight for the Brazilian fighter despite the point deduction.
So maybe Moreno had something to prove on Saturday to the masses, but he sure didn't look like he needed to prove something to himself. He fought with confidence right from the start.
It wasn't just the mental game, though, that made Moreno a champ. He displayed skills and tenacity in both the standup and the grappling that kept him a step ahead of Figueiredo. That started to show fairly early in the fight, as Moreno's aggression put the champ on the defensive. And when a Moreno jab sent Figueiredo to the canvas late in the first round, the challenger was in control. By the time the horn sounded, Moreno had a 25-7 edge in significant strikes.
Moreno still had work to do. Figueiredo showed urgency starting Round 2, and Moreno didn't flinch. The challenger got taken down and twice was threatened by the champ's ironclad guillotine choke. But Moreno not only defended the submission, he also reversed position and started working toward a tapout try of his own. As the round wore on, it became evident that Moreno had an answer to whatever Figueiredo was throwing at him, and the confidence he started the night with only grew. He was putting on a near-perfect performance.
The final act in the masterpiece was Moreno's relentless pursuit of a finish in Round 3, which showed a champion's gritty heart. And it earned him a champion's belt.
Israel Adesanya looks so untouchable at middleweight, he actually needed Robert Whittaker to do what he has done
Israel Adesanya calls out Robert Whittaker and says he wants to fight in Auckland, New Zealand, for their rematch.
Okamoto: For the majority of the past two years, it looked like Whittaker would be a thorn in Adesanya's side, in that a rematch between them wasn't that appealing. But at the same time, Whittaker kept beating guys who could be a new challenge for Adesanya. He beat Darren Till, whom Adesanya wanted to fight. He beat Jared Cannonier, whom Adesanya wanted to fight.
After he beat Kelvin Gastelum in April, the narrative changed. It no longer feels like Whittaker is knocking off possible fights for Adesanya. It feels like he is the fight for Adesanya. And Adesanya needs that, because he's dominating 185 pounds right now. That back-and-forth affair with Gastelum in 2019 feels like a long time ago. As of late, he has cruised against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa and now Marvin Vettori. He's in need of a matchup that will truly test him at this weight class, and whether it proves to be true, the feeling is Whittaker can do that.
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– June 13, 2021
UFC 263 Leon Edwards won the fight; Nathan Diaz won the night
UFC 263, Israel Adesanya, ufc results, Adesanya