The first numbered card of the year heads back to Rio De Janeiro where the vacant light-heavyweight title is on the line yet again at UFC 283. The last vacant title fight at light-heavyweight between Jan Błachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev at UFC 282 ended up in a controversial draw. Contesting for it this time is hometown favourite and veteran of the sport Glover Teixeira and rising star Jamahal Hill.
This is the first UFC event to be held in Brazil since COVID and Brazilian fans will be eagerly anticipating this stacked card.
Glover Teixeira (33-8) vs Jamahal Hill (11-1)
The swansong chapter of Teixeira’s career has been nothing short of remarkable. He has won six out of his last seven fights including a 2nd round submission victory over Błachowicz to win light-heavyweight gold.
Last time out, he was involved in the UFC fight of the year for 2022 against Jirí Procházka. He was submitted in the last minute of the last round of the fight to lose his light-heavyweight crown.
At 43 years old, this is surely Teixeira’s last chance to win back the title with the division full of top contenders waiting to fight for the belt.
Jamahal Hill has recovered well since his last defeat where he suffered a broken arm having refused to tap to Paul Craig’s submission attempt back at UFC 263.
He’s won all three of his last fights by knockout including a 4th round TKO victory over experienced former UFC light-heavyweight Thiago Santos.
‘Sweet Dreams’ was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Smith in a fight night main event in March. However, due to the vacant title bout between Błachowicz and Ankalaev ending in a draw at UFC 282, Hill was quickly promoted to fight Teixeira for the vacant title.
Teixeira: George, Alex, Conor
Deiveson Figueiredo (21-2-1) vs Brandon Moreno (20-6-2)
In what is fast becoming an iconic rivalry in the UFC flyweight division, Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno square off for the fourth time inside the Octagon.
Each of Figueiredo and Moreno’s three fights have been thrilling and have all been title fights. Their first fight was a controversial title affair back in 2020 at UFC 256, which officially ended in a draw, however many fans believed Figueiredo should have won.
They ran it back the next year at UFC 263, but Figueiredo looked stirred off a reported bad weight cut and ended up losing to Moreno in the third round via a rear-naked choke.
The trilogy fight went down at UFC 270 last year, and we witnessed a resurgence from Figueiredo. Although the fight was competitive from start to finish, Figueiredo appeared to have the better moments in key rounds and was able to grind to a unanimous decision that levelled their series up at 1-1-1.
Figueiredo, despite successfully winning back his belt with the help of the Fight Ready gym in Arizona, appears to have stayed at home with his team in Brazil, where the UFC card will be held at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio. He has reportedly trained with Charles Oliveira and the Chute Boxe team, so we may expect some slight changes from the champion come fight night.
Moreno is under the guideship of the renowned Sayif Saud, who will be most certainly tightening up Moreno’s defence towards his opponent’s leg kicks, which Figueiredo utilised to devastating effect in their previous bout.
Figueiredo: Andrew, George
Moreno: Alex, Conor
Gilbert Burns (20-5) vs Neil Magny (27-10)
Gilbert Burns has become one of the top fighters at Welterweight ever since his move from lightweight back in 2019.
The number five-ranked fighter has won five of his last seven which includes a fight against then welterweight champion Kamaru Usman where he came up short losing by TKO in the 3rd round.
Last time out, Burns fought in an all-out war against Khamzat Chimaev where he lost a close decision at UFC 273.
The New York born welterweight Neil Magny has been in the UFC for a considerable amount of time, fighting 28 times for the organization, having made his debut back in 2013.
Magny is often seen as a ‘gatekeeper’ of the division often winning against unranked fighters and losing against ranked fighters on the come up.
Last time out Magny beat Daniel Rodriguez via submission due to a D’Arce choke and will be hoping to get back-to-back wins to push him into title contention.
Burns: George, Alex, Andrew, Conor
Lauren Murphy (16-5) vs Jessica Andrade (23-9)
Since making her Flyweight debut in the UFC back in 2017, Murphy has risen in the rankings to become a top contender in the division. She’s won seven out of her last nine fights including a title fight with Valentina Schevchenko, in which she lost via TKO in the 4th round.
She bounced back from that defeat last time out when she beat former women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate by unanimous decision.
Jessica Andrade is making a return to flyweight for this fight as she’s hopped around both flyweight and strawweight. She’s been in a mixed reign of form recently winning only three of her last six fights including two title defeats, one at strawweight to Zhang Weili and the other at flyweight to Shevchenko.
Last time out she returned to strawweight where she beat Amanda Lemos via submission in the 1stround.
Andrade: George, Alex, Andrew, Conor
Paul Craig (16-5-1) vs Johnny Walker (19-7)
A spot in the top 10 of the light heavyweight standing is up for grabs as Paul Craig faces Johnny Walker.
Before his loss to Volkan Oezdemir in London six months ago, Craig was on the best run of his career. With wins over Magomed Ankalaev, Nikita Krylov and none other than Jamahal Hill, Craig is one of the most dangerous grapplers in the UFC. Craig is not a technical striker but comes forward aggressively and hits hard.
Walker is no defensive genius and has been on the end of some vicious knockouts from the likes of Hill. Walker’s best chance of victory comes from a quick start.
If he can land a good shot on Craig in the opening stages, it could force Craig to rely on the grappling game. As long as Walker can control the standing exchanges and be disciplined if and when he is on the ground with the Scotsman, a path to victory is there to be walked.
Craig: George, Alex, Andrew