The UFC is ready to kick off 2023 with a bang as the first pay-per-view event of the year will bring some of the best fighters in the world to Rio de Janairo this weekend for UFC 283. Despite the fact that the main event had to be changed due to an injury, this card is still absolutely loaded and fight fans are ready for a show.
What was supposed to be a rematch of the fight of the year in 2022, is now a matchup between a crafty former champ and a younger, more athletic and explosive up-and-comer with a huge opportunity. Plus, an unprecedented fourth meeting between two of the best in the world will determine the flyweight championship and two top welterweights will meet for a chance to make their case for a title shot.
Welterweight bout: Gilbert Burns vs. Neil Magny
The welterweight division is likely on hold until Kamaru Usman gets his championship rematch with Leon Edwards, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the top 15 can’t make some moves. A former title challenger, Burns comes into this fight looking to turn his momentum around, having lost two of his last three. At 20-5 with six knockouts and eight submissions, Burns is a very accomplished and dangerous fighter who can get the job done anywhere. He’s a lot of fun to watch in the striking game as he can end a fight in the blink of an eye, but his grappling may be the key in this bout.
A true UFC veteran, Magny will be making his 29th trip into the octagon and kicking off his 10th year with the organization. He boasts a 27-9 professional record with seven career knockouts. He’s not necessarily a guy you expect to score the highlight reel finish, but his quick hands and well-rounded skillset have made him a tough out for many opponents over the years. If Magny can avoid the big shots form Burns, he has a good shot of overcoming those big underdog odds he’s facing in this one. That is a big ‘if’ though.
My pick: Burns via 3rd round knockout
Flyweight championship bout: Deivesion Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
The UFC has made some interesting decisions in the past, but not making this fight the main event on this card is certainly one of the most puzzling. There have been a handful of great trilogies over the years in the octagon, but we’ve never seen a rivalry quite like this one.
For the fourth time in a row, Figueiredo will meet Moreno for the flyweight championship. With their first three meetings resulting in a draw, a Moreno win and a Figueiredo win, and each fight being wildly entertaining, this fourth meeting was a no-brainer. And after those previous three fights, Figueiredo comes into this one with a 21-2 professional record (with the one draw of course), with nine knockouts and eight submissions. Throw gameplans out the window here. These guys know each other so well, this is just going to be a scrap and it’s just going to come down to who wants it more.
For Moreno, those three meetings with Figueiredo were actually not his three most recent fights. He has since knocked out top contender Kai Kara France, which cemented this fourth title fight. Moreno’s record stands at 20-6 with four knockouts and 11 submissions, but again, these numbers don’t mean much of anything. This is going to be a war and should be an early contender for fight of the year. Also, when it comes to predicting the outcome: flip a coin, throw a dart or do whatever else you can to decide because your guess is as good as mine.
My pick: Figueiredo via decision
Light heavyweight championship bout: Glover Teixeira vs. Jamahal Hill
The light heavyweight division is absolutely wild right now. To recap the past year and a half: Teixeira became one of the oldest champions in UFC history by shocking Jan Blachowicz, then he lost the title to Jiri Prochazka in the fight of the year, then Prochazka got injured and Blachowicz met Magomed Ankalaev for the interim title, only for them to fight to a draw and leave us without a champion before the UFC announced a meeting between Teixeira and Hill would crown the next light heavyweight king. Got all that?
Teixeria will be stepping into the octagon at 43 years old when he tries to capture the championship for a second time. With more than 40 fights under his belt, he sports a 33-8 record with 18 knockouts and 10 submissions. Prior to his loss against Prochazka – which, again, was the most exciting fight of 2022 – he had run off six in a row against some of the best in the world. Seemingly just getting better with age, Teixeira has proven he can finish anyone and the crafty veteran knows how to get himself into advantageous positions. And even when he appears to be gassed in the late rounds, he still manages to tough it out and be dangerous at all times.
Since making his UFC debut in 2020, Hill has stepped into the octagon seven times, putting together a record of 5-1 (with one no contest). The young, explosive star can stop a fight very quickly, as he has proven with his current streak of knockout wins against Jimmy Crute, Johnny Walker and Thiago Santos. If Hill can stay on the outside and use his athleticism to get to Teixeira, this could be a short night for the former champ. On the other hand though, if Teixeira can get a hold of Hill, it will be interesting to see what Hill can do in the grappling game against someone so skilled.
My pick: Hill via 4th round knockout
UFC 283 will be held Saturday, January 21 at 10 PM ET. Fight fans can order the pay per view through ESPN+ and receive a special offer: $124.98 for UFC 283 and an ESPN+ annual plan. ESPN+ subscribers can order the pay per view for $79.99.