Following a considerably tumultuous begin to the brand new for the UFC, the promotion is about to roll out its first pay-per-view card of 2023 on Saturday when UFC 283 invades Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
The occasion marks the UFC’s first occasion in Brazil for the reason that onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 and encompasses a pair of title bouts atop the marquee.
Former mild heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira returns to his dwelling nation to face Jamahal Hill for the vacant 205-pound title in the principle occasion. Flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and interim titleholder Brandon Moreno additionally meet for the fourth time in a 125-pound title unification.
Let’s take a more in-depth take a look at the most important storylines getting into this weekend.
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1. A much-needed return to enterprise as normal for UFC
While UFC did formally kick off the brand new 12 months final weekend with a Fight Night card inside its Apex facility in Las Vegas, UFC 283 represents the promotion’s first shut up on a world scale since what has been a tumultuous month between PPV occasions in the course of the vacation season. From a playing scandal centered round former fighter/coach James Krause to the ugly aftermath of the home assault caught on digital camera involving UFC president Dana White and his spouse, fight sports activities’ largest model has persistently made the headlines in current weeks for all of the incorrect causes. This previous Saturday, that solely continued when White introduced that Francis Ngannou has given up his heavyweight title to develop into a free agent, simply when followers thought a superfight towards Jon Jones was proper across the nook. UFC has some severe work to do transferring ahead, each from the standpoint of repairing its public picture and when it comes to fighter rights (and pay), which was a giant a part of the explanation why Ngannou exited. The finest approach to start that course of from a public relations standpoint is to ship an thrilling card, from prime to backside. With 15 fights at present scheduled and a raucous crowd anticipated, the expectations for drama — this time contained in the cage — stay excessive.
2. The UFC mild heavyweight division is a whole mess
That’s about the one correct approach to say it. Jiri Prochazka vacated his UFC title shortly earlier than his scheduled rematch with Teixeira, after the 2 produced a title combat for the ages final June. But Teixeira would not comply with combat alternative Magomed Ankalaev on brief discover, which led to Ankalaev combating former champion Jan Blachowicz for the vacant title in December. That combat was finally dominated a draw, nevertheless, which left issues much more unresolved and the combat bothered White and firm a lot that UFC brass determined to reward the 43-year-old Teixeira with a brand new title shot anyway, tapping the streaking Hill to be his opponent on that very same night time. The combat, on paper, provides no scarcity of potential for fireworks, with the added bonus of Teixeira returning to combat in his native Brazil for the primary time since 2014 and the possibility to develop into a two-time champion. But though Teixeira had denied the potential of it, what occurs if he survives a struggle with Hill to recapture the title, solely to then retire on the spot, comically leaving the UFC 205-pound throne vacant as soon as extra? Or what if Hill wins but is not accepted by critics as the perfect fighter within the division, additional watering down the worth of the title? In the three years since Jon Jones initially vacated the title, the as soon as glamor division for the UFC hasn’t felt all that glamorous.
3. Deiveson Figueiredo-Brandon Moreno is the present that retains on giving
Outside of worry that the 35-year-old Figueiredo, who has routinely had difficulties making championship weight, does so as soon as once more, the primary quadrilogy in UFC historical past has all of the makings to be as nice as their first three choices. Every matchup on this historic rivalry has delivered, whether or not that be a combat of the 12 months contender of their first assembly (dominated a draw), or emotional victories by each of their subsequent sequels. For Moreno, the primary Mexican-born UFC champion, his submission victory at UFC 263 was additional candy contemplating he had been reduce by the promotion simply three years earlier. But Figueiredo’s response in 2022 by regaining his title in one more five-round struggle — at age 34, no much less — may need been essentially the most spectacular feat of this sequence. Oddsmakers have set their fourth assembly as a digital choose ’em, even after Moreno rallied to cease Kai Kara-France final July to win the interim title. Regardless of who wins, Figueiredo and Moreno have already secured their spot in historical past and can seemingly be perpetually linked. The solely query now could be whether or not UFC 283 can be their ultimate assembly or simply one other chapter on this storied rivalry that has been heavy on motion, drama and each showcasing their indelible combating spirit.
4. The UFC 283 tagline may simply as simply be ‘Brazil towards the world’
This is already a loaded combat card, with 15 whole bouts in all, together with the 5 that make up the PPV foremost card. But Brazilian MMA followers, among the many sport’s most passionate base across the globe, won’t solely get an opportunity to see their first UFC card in individual since 2020, the cardboard itself is plagued by home expertise from prime to backside. In truth, all 15 bouts characteristic a minimum of one fighter born in Brazil and two supply matchups of Brazilian-born fighters squaring off towards each other. In addition to the title fights atop the marquee, the principle card additionally encompasses a trio of huge alternatives for Brazilian fighters. Former welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns appears to be like to bounce again from a detailed defeat in his all-out struggle towards Khamzat Chimaev by dealing with Neil Magny. Meanwhile, former ladies’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade takes on flyweight contender Lauren Murphy in a key matchup for title positioning and light-weight heavyweight Johnny Walker takes on Paul Craig.
5. One final trip for the legendary ‘Shogun’
Twenty-one years and 41 fights since he made his professional debut in his native Brazil, former UFC mild heavyweight champion and Pride Grand Prix middleweight winner Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will make his ultimate stroll to the Octagon in Saturday’s featured preliminary bout. Rua, 41, will tackle UFC newcomer Igor Poterya, a local of Ukraine who misplaced his promotional debut final July. And though it has been near a decade since Rua was nonetheless thought-about a reliable title menace, his twilight in recent times has produced some stunning moments with flashes of what as soon as made him nice. Rua is 5-3-1 since 2015, together with wins over the likes of Corey Anderson and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (twice). But alongside along with his knockout win over Lyoto Machida to seize the UFC title in 2010, Rua will perpetually be linked to the five-year run he had in Pride by means of 2007, scoring wins over Alistair Overeem (twice), Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, Ricardo Arona, Quinton “Rampage’ Jackson and extra.
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