Official result: Israel Adesanya def. Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
UFC 263 results, highlights: Israel Adesanya retains title with decisive performance against Marvin Vettori
Adesanya got back to his winning ways with an outstanding five-round showing in the main event
Marvin Vettori believed he won his 2018 clash with Israel Adesanya and never stopped calling for a rematch with the man who would go on to become UFC middleweight champion. Vettori got his rematch on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 263 and came up empty, with Adesanya taking a clear decision victory at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Vettori had only a few successful moments in the fight, scoring with a handful of takedowns, but Adesanya showcased improved grappling skills as he escaped back to his feet every time, including spinning out of a rear-naked choke attempt to end up in top position. Outside of those fleeting moments for Vettori, the fight was all Adesanya as he worked Vettori over with a steady diet of leg kicks.
Those leg kicks took the explosiveness out of Vettori's takedown attempts, leaving him to spend much of the championship rounds leaning forward, clinging to Adesanya's legs while not being able to put the fight back on the ground. This drew taunts from Adesanya and boos from the crowd.
Even with the fight clearly having gone Adesanya's way, after the final horn, the two briefly exchanged words, with Vettori claiming to have done enough to win the fight.
In the end, Adesanya took every round on all three official scorecards, winning by scores of 50-45 across the board. Adesanya has now successfully defended the 185-pound championship three times and rebounded from a loss in his previous fight, an attempt to become a two-division champion when he went to light heavyweight to face 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz.
After his victory, Adesanya called for a rematch with Robert Whittaker, the man he defeated to become champion.
"Whittaker, my arch-nemesis, Bobby," Adesanya said. "I don't know what the f--- is gonna happen with COVID. We need to run that back in Auckland, in my territory this time. I'll tell you what it is, I get to decide, you don't get to decide, because why? I'm the motherf---ing king, bitch."
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Elsewhere on the card, Brandon Moreno became the first Mexican-born champion in UFC history with a third-round submission of Deiveson Figueiredo in the co-main event. Seven months after the two battled to a draw, Moreno looked vastly improved as he took the fight to the champ and eventually secured back position for the rear-naked choke. The new champion was at a loss for words as the referee pulled him off Figueiredo and prepared to have the belt put around his waist.
Plus, Nate Diaz was thoroughly dominated for 24 minutes of his five-round affair with Leon Edwards. But just as things were winding down, Diaz caught Edwards clean with a combination that saw Edwards visibly wobble. The top contender at welterweight managed to survive the final 60 seconds en route to the decision victory, but the moment certainly elevated the already beloved figure in Diaz even more in fans' eyes.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 263 below.
UFC 263 card and results
- Israel Adesanya (c) def. Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
- Brandon Moreno (c) def. Deiveson Figueiredo via third-round submission (rear naked choke)
- Leon Edwards def. Nate Diaz via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
- Belal Muhammad def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Paul Craig def. Jamahal Hill via first-round TKO (arm injury)
- Brad Riddell def. Drew Dober via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Eryk Anders def. Darren Stewart via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
- Lauren Murphy def. Joanne Calderwood via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Movsar Evloev def. Hakeem Dawodu via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
- Pannie Kianzad def. Alexis Davis via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Terrance McKinney def. Matt Frevola via first-round TKO (punches)
- Steven Peterson def. Chase Hooper via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Fares Ziam def. Luigi Vendramini via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
- Carlos Felipe def. Jake Collier via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
After a referee separation, Adesanya continued hunting for a big head kick in between leg attacks. Vettori shot in for a final takedown, landing some punches to the thighs before the final horn. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Adesanya (50-45)
Adesanya landed another leg kick after pretending a light Vettori punch had rocked him. Vettori dove in for a takedown attempt again, trying to take the back, but Adesanya fought through it to stay on his feet.
Vettori continued to hold on but couldn't put the champion down before Adesanya broke away. Adesanya went high with a kick again and again, but continued to miss by inches.
Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Marvin Vettori -- Round 5: Adesanya went high with a kick early, and then down to the legs again before Vettori charged in for a takedown attempt.
Vettori held onto Adesanya's legs for the remainder of the round, drawing heavy boos as he did nothing. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Adesanya (40-36)
Vettori landed a few leg kicks of his own, but without the snap of Adesanya's. Adesanya threw a two-punch combo before finishing with a heavy leg kick. Adesanya then went upstairs again with a kick but Vettori blocked it before going for another takedown.
Vettori did score with a left hand as he charged in with punches, but he couldn't hold the clinch to do anything meaningful with the position before taking more kicks to the legs.
Vettori shot in for a takedown against the cage, holding Adesanya's legs but Adesanya kicked off the cage to reverse position and end up on top, backing off to allow Vettori back to his feet.
Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Marvin Vettori -- Round 4: Vettori looked badly compromised in his movement because of the leg kicks, lacking explosiveness as Adesanya picked his shots at distance.
An Adesanya kick landed to Vettori's cup just seconds before the round, leading to another penalty break before the final seconds ticked away. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Adesanya (30-27)
Adesanya dropped Vettori with a leg kick and then hit a few punches before Vettori got back up, shaking his head.
Adesanya landed an uppercut and a right hand before another leg kick. The kicks started to pile up and head kicks just missed coming off of the low kicks.
After the action resumed, Adesanya landed a heavy leg kick that seemed to hurt Vettori. Another followed moments later before Adesanya just missed a head kick.
HUGE takedown by @MarvinVettori in Round 3 💥 #UFC263 pic.twitter.com/mqcSXkS6y1— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 13, 2021
Adesanya tried to explode to his feet but Vettori took the back, briefly seeming to have the rear-naked choke locked in, but Adesanya reversed to end up on top. Vettori nearly locked in a leg lock and Adesanya escaped back to standing. There was an eye poke on the scramble back to the feet and that led to a brief break in the action.
The champ started to flow near the end of Round 1 🌊 @stylebender #UFC263 pic.twitter.com/AtntVkbACa— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 13, 2021
Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Marvin Vettori -- Round 3: Vettori opened with a big drive forward, scoring a quick takedown after being told by his corner that he was losing rounds. Less than 30 seconds into the round, Vettori had the fight on the canvas and was on top.
Another Adesanya round. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Adesanya (20-18)
Vettori ran in for another takedown and Adesanya landed elbows to the head again to make Vettori give up on the attempt.
Adesanya's defense continued to make Vettori's offense mostly ineffective, relying on simple head movement to make the challenger miss while poking with simple shots of his own.
Adesanya kept the focus on the leg kicks and Vettori finally ran forward looking for the takedown along the cage and Adesanya responded with elbows to the head before breaking away.
Israel Adesanya (c) vs. Marvin Vettori -- Round 2: Vettori's corner implored him to get the fight to the floor between rounds, but Adesanya continued the leg kick work. Adesanya just missed with a head kick but did connect with some power punches.
Taking him down early 💥#UFC263 pic.twitter.com/11h3K0c08O— UFC (@ufc) June 13, 2021
The takedown was a good moment for Vettori, but not enough to win him the round. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Adesanya
An Adesanya head kick was blocked by Vettori but the leg kicks continued to land hard. The champ landed an uppercut and just missed with a head kick.
Adesanya went back to the leg kicks and slid his head off the line to avoid a Vettori combination. Vettori pinned Adesanya to the cage but Adesanya used head movement to avoid the incoming punches and went back to blasting Vettori's legs.
Adesanya threw his legs up and kicked off Vettori's body to get back to standing, but Vettori kept in close trying for the takedown before Adesanya broke free.
Adesanya slid out of the way of a few Vettori punches and went back to the leg kick before Vettori threw two of his own. Vettori finally grabbed an Adesanya kick and used it to drive through a takedown.