A vacant belt gets a new owner and a champion faces his stiffest rival for a fourth time this Saturday (Jan. 21, 2023) when Glover Teixeira vs. Jamahal Hill and Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno 4 headline UFC’s inaugural pay-per-view (PPV) of 2023. UFC 283, which will take place Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will also feature Gilbert Burns vs. Neil Magny and Jessica Andrade vs. Lauren Murphy, as well as an explosive opener pitting Paul Craig against Johnny Walker.
ABC and ESPN share custody of the top five “Prelims” undercard bouts (check out the first batch here), which we’ve broken down for you below:
205 lbs.: Mauricio Rua vs. Ihor Potieria
A 2-0-1 run marked just the second time since 2007 that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (27-13-1) put together a three-fight unbeaten streak. It wasn’t to last, and he enters the cage this Saturday on the heels of consecutive losses to Paul Craig and Ovince Saint Preux.
He stands two inches shorter than Ihor Potieria (19-3), but will enjoy a one-inch reach advantage.
Potieria extended his win streak to 15 with a first round Contender Series knockout of Lukasz Sudolski, which also earned him a UFC contract. His Octagon tenure began 10 months later, when he suffered a technical knockout loss to Nicolae Negumereanu.
He’s knocked out and submitted seven professional foes apiece.
Christ, I’m dreading this. “Shogun’s” been shot to bits for years and I have no desire to watch him absorb even more punishment. While Potieiria is decidedly mediocre, he’s 15 years younger than Rua and possesses two functional knees, which is enough to carry him past what’s left of the Brazilian legend.
All that’s left of Rua is a semi-functional grinder, and even with Potieria’s awful ground game, I can’t see Rua manhandling someone who isn’t as physically wrecked as himself. Sadly, Potieria should blow him away in the opening minutes.
Prediction: Potieria via first round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Gregory Rodrigues vs. Brunno Ferreira
An unsuccessful Contender Series bid failed to drag down Gregory Rodriguez (13-4), as he swiftly claimed LFA’s Middleweight belt with a knockout of Josh Fremd. “Robocop” now sits at 4-1 in the Octagon, the lone loss a controversial one to fellow Contender Series alum, Armen Petrosyan.
Eleven of his wins have come inside the distance, seven of them by knockout.
Brunno Ferreira (9-0) spent the first three years of his career rampaging through the Brazilian scene, ultimately winning the Big Shot MMA title with a vicious ground-and-pound finish. His fourth fight of 2022 took place on Contender Series, where he knocked out Leon Aliu to secure a contract.
“The Hulk” replaces Brad Tavares on less than two weeks’ notice.
As with most of Rodrigues’ fights, this really comes down to how easy he wants to make it for himself. If he leans on his Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Ferreira doesn’t have many answers. And while “The Hulk” has some powerful slams and can do damage from the top, he’s demonstrated some deficiencies in positioning that a grappler of Rodrigues’ caliber can feast on.
Knowing Rodrigues, though, he’ll probably meet Ferreira head on. He’ll still win that kind of fight thanks to his size, power and technique, but it’ll be a much hairier proposition because of Ferreira’s explosiveness. Seeing as Rodrigues’ durability has held up since the Williams debacle, I’m willing to put my faith in him anyway. Whether it’s the easy way or the hard way, he stops Ferreira inside two rounds.
Prediction: Rodrigues via first round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Thiago Moises vs. Melquizael Costa
Thiago Moises (16-6) put his early UFC struggles behind him to win three straight, only to suffer consecutive stoppage losses to Islam Makhachev and Joel Alvarez. Undaunted, he returned to the win column with a bonus-winning first round submission of Christos Giagos in June 2022.
He’s the shorter man by one inch and faces a 2.5-inch reach disadvantage.
Melquizael Costa (19-5) sits at 7-1 since hitting a 1-3 skid, five of those wins coming inside the distance. He last saw action in Nov. 2022, when he knocked out Junior Melo for his 13th career finish.
“Melk” replaces Guram Kutateladze on around two weeks’ notice.
When looking at Moises’ spotty Octagon record, it’s worth remembering that his competition has been ridiculous. Losing to the likes of Makhachev, Alvarez and Beneil Dariush does not a bad fighter make, and though he likely would have come up short against Kutateladze, I like his chances. Costa is a very capable striker with an impressive ability to get back to his feet, but he surrenders takedowns too easily against a jiu-jitsu artist of this caliber.
While Costa has a good shot at scoring the upset if he can keep Moises on the back foot, his kick-heavy approach leaves too many opportunities for the ultra-durable Moises to bring it into his world, and getting out from underneath Moises is a tall task. In the end, Moises wins the all-Brazilian battle with long stretches of top control.
Prediction: Moises via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Jailton Almeida
Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-7) bounced back from an unsuccessful UFC debut by winning five of his next six, among them an impressive knockout of Marcin Tybura. He’s winless since, dropping three straight and suffering through eight fight cancelations in the process.
He gives up three inches of reach to Jailton Almeida (17-2).
Almeida followed his upset submission of Nasrudin Nasrudinov with an even more dominant finish of Danilo Marquez in his UFC debut. He then elected to move up to Heavyweight, where he’s dispatched Parker Porter and Anton Turkalj with similar efficiency.
All of his wins have come inside the distance, 11 by submission.
This is the third time these two have been booked to fight and I don’t like Abdurakhimov’s chances any better than I did the first time around. Even when he wasn’t 41 years old and coming off of three consecutive beatdowns, “Abrek” repeatedly struggled off of his back against far lesser jiu-jitsu artists than Almeida. There’s not a lot he can do to stop Almeida from dragging him to the mat and even less he can do to keep from getting dominated on the ground.
At his very, very best, Abdurakhimov would have an outside chance of clipping Almeida as he rushed into the pocket. It’s been years since that Abdurakhimov stepped into the cage, though, and the outlook looks grim. In short, Almeida takes him down in the first 30 seconds and either taps him or pounds him out.
Prediction: Almeida via first round submission
170 lbs.: Gabriel Bonfim vs. Mounir Lazzez
Gabriel Bonfim (13-0) needed just 79 seconds to choke out Eduardo Garvon and claim LFA’s Welterweight title. The win sent “Marretinha” to Contender Series six months later, resulting in a Von Flue finish of Trey Waters and a UFC contract.
Ten of his 13 finishes have come by submission.
Mounir Lazzez (11-2) defied considerable odds to defeat Abdul Razak Alhassan in his UFC debut, which resulted in a “Fight of the Night” bonus. Though he succumbed to a Warlley Alves body kick his next time out, he returned to the win column by out-dueling Ange Loosa.
He’ll enjoy a four-inch reach advantage.
Bonfim’s boxing offense is genuinely monstrous. He’s got power, speed and he’s got a great jab. What he doesn’t have is great defense — Brenner Alberth nearly knocked him out three fights back, concussing Bonfim enough that he had to withdraw from the tournament despite emerging victorious. On top of that, he had a lot of issues with Waters’ height and reach, which forced him to resort to wrestling.
Lazzez has the edge in reach and the knowledge to use it, meaning Bonfim’s jab won’t be enough to save him. Plus, while Bonfim’s wrestling could be a deciding factor, Lazzez has the gas tank to power through adversity and keep pouring it on late in the fight. I like “The Sniper” to pull the upset.
Prediction: Lazzez via unanimous decision
UFC 283 is not a bad night of fights, though that new price tag is still a hard sell. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Current Prediction Record for 2023: 5-0
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 283 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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