Leon Edwards takes on Nate Diaz and three other Brits are in action


UFC 263 is shaping up to be one of the best cards this year, headlined by Israel Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori for the middleweight belt. 

All eyes will be on the champion as he returns to his natural division but there are some incredible match-ups to savour before the headliners make their octagon walk. 

Deiveson Figueiredo repeats one of the best fights of last year for the flyweight belt against Brandon Moreno in the co-main event but even before that, arguably the most anticipated fight on the card takes place between Leon Edwards and Nate Diaz. 

Edwards is one of four British fighters competing in Arizona. Here’s a look at the best of the rest outside the main event on Saturday night. 

Leon Edwards (left) is back in action after his no-contest against Belal Muhammad

Leon Edwards (left) is back in action after his no-contest against Belal Muhammad

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno 

Flyweight title fight 

When you get a draw in a five-round title fight, there’s a fair chance it was an absolute barnburner.  

That was the case last December when the two flyweights put on a late contender for fight of the year. Few gave Moreno a chance after an incredible year for his Brazilian opponent but the champion was pushed to his limit. 

In the end he clung on to his belt by the skin of his teeth and will know he’s in for another war in the rematch. 

Deiveson Figueiredo (left) and Brandon Moreno (right) fought to a thrilling majority draw

Deiveson Figueiredo (left) and Brandon Moreno (right) fought to a thrilling majority draw

Deiveson Figueiredo (left) and Brandon Moreno (right) fought to a thrilling majority draw  

Figueiredo clung on to his title and will run it back against his challenger on Saturday night

Figueiredo clung on to his title and will run it back against his challenger on Saturday night

Figueiredo clung on to his title and will run it back against his challenger on Saturday night

Watching the top flyweights is always like pressing fast forward on your remote. The action is relentless, frenetic and rapid. 

Figueiredo has 17 finishes from 20 fights and Moreno has ended 13 of 18 inside the distance so both men go for the kill when they smell blood. 

If the champion manages to cut weight without any issues, which there reportedly were last time, then he should have enough to defend his crown but it would be no surprise at all to see Moreno exceed expectations again.  

Leon Edwards vs Nate Diaz

Welterweight  

Edwards can stake a claim as the unluckiest fighter in the UFC but finally the chips have fallen kindly for him with this match-up. 

Diaz remains one of the biggest draws in the sport but does not necessarily pose the same threat as other top contenders in the welterweight division.

Fans were left scratching their heads about where Edwards would go next after a no contest for an eye poke on Belal Muhammad earlier this year. 

But the Diaz fight came out of nowhere and now ‘Rocky’ has a clear path to a shot at Kamaru Usman with a victory. 

Britain's Edwards will have the biggest fight of his career against Nate Diaz

Britain's Edwards will have the biggest fight of his career against Nate Diaz

Britain’s Edwards will have the biggest fight of his career against Nate Diaz

The champion is set to defend his belt against Colby Covington next but Edwards’ claim would be undeniable if the Birmingham fighter makes it his 10th contest in succession without defeat. 

Diaz is never involved in a boring fight and has a pay-per-view style based on output, volume and endurance. 

The UFC have made an exception for this one too, scheduling a non-title fight over five rounds so there’s even more action to enjoy.

Edwards, 29, has a legitimate chance of becoming the second British UFC champion and will view Diaz as the perfect stepping stone.  

Diaz's return to the UFC was delayed due to injury but he is now good to go in Arizona

Diaz's return to the UFC was delayed due to injury but he is now good to go in Arizona

Diaz’s return to the UFC was delayed due to injury but he is now good to go in Arizona

Paul Craig vs Jamahal Hill

Light-heavyweight  

The Scot’s resurrection in the UFC has been magnificent. He has won three of his last four (the other being a draw he turned into a win over Mauricio Rua), and is flying high at No 14 in the division. 

Craig remains one of the most outstanding jiu-jitsu practitioners in the UFC and can throw up a submission at any moment. 

Back in 2018, he produced one of the most unforgettable finishes ever, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the very last second of the very last round against Magomed Ankalaev. 

Paul Craig could move into the top 10 in the light-heavyweight division with a win

Paul Craig could move into the top 10 in the light-heavyweight division with a win

Paul Craig could move into the top 10 in the light-heavyweight division with a win 

You can never count the 33-year-old out and Hill will want to avoid going to the mat with him at all costs. 

The pair were originally supposed to compete in March but the American pulled out after contracting Covid and had to focus on his recovery. 

Now they are set fair and this will be a stern examination for Hill, unbeaten in his eight fights with an impressive win over Ovince Saint Preux last time out. 

Eryk Anders vs Darren Stewart 

Light-heavyweight

Darren ‘The Dentist’ Stewart is always worth tuning in for. The Brit has a compelling style and is out to settle the score with Anders. 

They fought back in March but it was ruled a no contest after the American landed an illegal knee to his grounded opponent. 

It was an unsatisfying conclusion and Anders had rocked Stewart. He was pouring on the punishment but then made the critical error. 

To his credit, Stewart wanted to carry on but the doctor’s protected him from himself and called a halt to it. 

Given the way both men came out swinging last time, you’d expect more of the same in the rematch in what should be a must-watch on the pre-lims.

Darren 'The Dentist' Stewart will be looking to settle the score with Eryk Anders

Darren 'The Dentist' Stewart will be looking to settle the score with Eryk Anders

Darren ‘The Dentist’ Stewart will be looking to settle the score with Eryk Anders

Lauren Murphy vs Joanne Calderwood

Women’s flyweight

Calderwood knows that a win over Murphy would open the door for a title shot against dominant champion Valentina Shevchenko.

The Scot is ranked three places below Murphy, who is No 3 in the division. Calderwood was supposed to take on Shevchenko last year but the Russian had to pull out due to injury. 

She believes the fans are in for a treat on Saturday, telling the Mirror: ‘She’s awesome, she’s very tough. I feel like she’s going to bring the type of fight that I love, and the fans love.

Joanne Calderwood (right) believes a win over Lauren Murphy will get her a title shot

Joanne Calderwood (right) believes a win over Lauren Murphy will get her a title shot

Joanne Calderwood (right) believes a win over Lauren Murphy will get her a title shot 

‘We’re both tough, pale-skinned but ready to bleed in there.

‘You never know what will play out with the UFC but I think if I beat Lauren she was pretty vocal about being next.

‘She’s on a tear right now so I think if I go and put on a good performance I can’t see what else would be next, epecially with Valentia saying she wants to stay active and fight as well.’

Hakeem Dawodu vs Movstar Evloev

Featherweight

This one will kick off the pre-lims and has the make-up of a fascinating contest. 

The Russian, Evloev, is undefeated in his career and has won all four of his fights in the UFC so far. The 27-year-old rising star will come up against the toughest test he’s experienced in Dawodu. 

The Canadian has only tasted defeat once and believes the lack of power coming his way will be a decisive factor on Saturday.

‘I don’t feel like he has much power at all,’ he told Sports Keeda.

‘I’m not saying I’m gonna go in there, eat his punches, and brawl with him. But I feel like there’s less of a risk with the punches. That may be his weakness. 

‘I see him, you know, standing up with me for a little bit. And then, you know, feeling a shot that he doesn’t like, and then, yeah, shooting (for takedowns) all night.’



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