The UFC returned to Glendale, Arizona tonight for a night of fights that included two highly anticipated championship rematches featuring four of the very best fighters in the world. The result was an incredibly exciting slate of contests that delivered some even more exciting finishes.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the night and break down the three fights we looked at in our UFC 263 preview.
This show got absolutely wild early as one of the first few fights ended in just seven seconds. That’s right, making his UFC debut, Terrance McKinney finished Matt Frevola with a knockout in just seven seconds. It was the fastest knockout in lightweight history and tied for the fourth fastest in any division. It was so fast in fact that you can see the entire fight in the tweet below. Unfortunately for McKinney, when he jumped off of the cage in celebration, he appeared to injure his knee. We won’t know for some time just how severe this injury is, but I’m sure McKinney is still happy with how this night went for him.
In a fight that easily could have headlined another event, third-ranked women’s flyweight Lauren Murphy edged out a very close decision victory over sixth-ranked Joanne Calderwood. The two traded some good shots in the standup game but it was clear that Murphy had a decisive advantage in the grappling and controlled the second round on the ground. Calderwood made up some of the difference in the third round but it was too little too late and Murphy got the split decision. A title shot against the dominant champion Valentina Shevchenko could be next for Murphy.
The final fight before the main card was a wildly entertaining lightweight bout that saw Brad Riddell take a very close decision from 13th-ranked Drew Dober. It was an incredible fight, with both guys landing huge shots. Dober almost managed to put Riddell away in the first round after landing a huge left hand, but Riddell managed to survive. Late in the first, Riddell started to find the mark with his right hand and that was really the story of the rest of the fight. They continued to trade big shots but Riddell got the better of most of the exchanges en route to the decision win.
OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!! ?
— UFC (@ufc) June 12, 2021
Main Card Highlights
In the first bout of the main card, Paul Craig reminded us just how effective grappling can be in mixed martial arts. He wasted little time pulling guard against his opponent Jamahal Hill and quickly threated with submissions. After a couple of attempts, Craig snatched an arm, locked up an armbar and broke Hill’s arm. Amazingly, Hill did not give up and continued to try and fight but eventually the ref had to step in and put a stop to the fight. It was not a fight you’re going to want to look into if you have a weak stomach.
And speaking of grappling, 43-year-old jiu jitsu expert Demian Maia did everything he could to get Belal Muhammad to the ground. Unfortunately for him, Muhammad’s takedown defense proved to be enough to keep the fight on the feet where he had the clear advantage. The younger and more athletic fighter proved to be too fast and too crisp in the striking and managed to take a decision. This could be the last time we’ve seen Maia in the octagon and if that is the case, it was a fantastic career.
— UFC (@ufc) June 13, 2021
Leon Edwards def. Nate Diaz
There was a clear crowd-favorite in this one. Nate Diaz is a beloved fighter and the Glendale fans really showed it tonight. That wasn’t enough for Nate to overcome the talent of the third-ranked welterweight in the world however. Edwards got the better of almost every exchange for the first 24 and a half minutes of this five-round fight. However, with this fight well in hand in the closing moments, Edwards got caught with a straight left hand from Diaz that had him dazed. Edwards was on wobbly legs for the last 30 seconds of the fight while Diaz tried to put him away. Leon was able to survive though and take a decision victory. The reason I picked this fight to be a decision was the legendary toughness of Diaz and that was clearly on display in this fight. A normal human being would have wilted under the relentless pressure of Edwards but Nate only got stronger as the fight went on. Of course, his signature head games were on display throughout the fight as well and he was having just as much fun as ever, but Edwards managed to stay disciplined to get the win. A championship opportunity could be on deck for Edwards.
My pick: Edwards via decision
Result: Edwards via decision
Brandon Moreno def. Deiveson Figueiredo
This was a rematch of an absolutely epic fight from late last year that resulted in a majority draw. That contest clearly gave Moreno the confidence he needed in the rematch because he took the center of the octagon right from the beginning and never looked back. Moreno got the better of the striking and even dropped Figueiredo in the first round. They shared some wild grappling exchanges as well and, while Figueiredo faired better in those, it was still Moreno who was threatening more. Then in the second, Moreno got himself to an advantageous position and eventually sunk in a choke. The champ fought as long as he could but was eventually forced to tap, passing the torch and the title to Moreno. The win made Moreno the first Mexican-born UFC champion and he was overcome with emotion in his celebration. Figueiredo showed a lot of class in defeat, embracing Moreno during this incredibly special moment. A third fight between these two could absolutely be in the cards down the road.
My pick: Figueiredo via 4th round knockout
Result: Moreno via 3rd round submission
Israel Adesanya def. Marvin Vettori
Like the co-main event, this was another rematch between two great fighters. Unlike the co-main event, this was not a close fight and the result was the same as the first meeting. Israel Adesanya proved that he is absolutely one of the best fighters in the world and just on a completely different level from his challenger tonight. Vettori did manage to secure a few takedowns over the course of five rounds, but the champ was always able to get back to the feet where he picked the challenger apart. There was some bad blood between these two that appeared to carry over after the fight, but Adesanya will likely be putting Vettori in his rearview mirror after this performance. Afterwards, Adesanya called out former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker for what would be another rematch.
My pick: Adesanya via 3rd round knockout
Result: Adesanya via decision
The first-ever Mexican-born UFC champ ???[ @TheAssassinBaby | #UFC263 ] pic.twitter.com/QYzcuOElTk
— UFC (@ufc) June 13, 2021
The UFC will return to ESPN+ on Saturday, June 19 for UFC Fight Night: Jung vs. Ige. Be sure to check back for a preview of the event.
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”