Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will try, once again, to bring some stability to the volatile light heavyweight division, a kingdom without a crown after former champion Jiri Prochazka blew out his shoulder doing ... whatever samurai crap he does in camp. Tasked with bringing order to chaos is former 205-pound titleholder Glover Teixeira, who welcomes unlikely (but nevertheless deserving) division contender Jamahal Hill, a dangerous power puncher with the opportunity of a lifetime. Before that five-round headliner gets underway at the UFC 283 pay-per-view (PPV) event this Sat. night (Jan. 21, 2023) inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the promotion will give reigning flyweight kingpin Deiveson Figueiredo and current interim titleholder Brandon Moreno an opportunity to settle their championship score for the fourth (and hopefully final) time.
Who wins and who loses?
Before we get to the finer details, be sure to take a closer look at our comprehensive preview and predictions for all the UFC 283 preliminary card action by clicking here and here. The latest UFC 283 odds and a complete betting guide for the “Teixeira vs. Hill” PPV event can be located here. Remember, you’ll need a subscription to ESPN+ to order this weekend’s fight card but you’ll also get access to all the subsequent “Fight Night” events.
Let’s talk shop.
205 lbs.: Glover Teixeira (33-8) vs. Jamahal “Sweet Dreams” Hill (11-1, 1 NC) for vacant light heavyweight title
After Jiri Prochazka was injured and pulled from the UFC 282 main event, former light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira refused to fight Magomed Ankalaev on just two weeks’ notice and instead asked the promotion to rebook the fight for UFC 283 in Rio. I can’t help but wonder if G-Tex regretted his decision after watching the lame-duck performance from the supposedly-injured Ankalaev, who went on to battle Jan Blachowicz to a split draw. Regardless, Teixeira got his wish and will now fight Jamahal Hill for the vacant 205-pound strap this weekend in front of a fired-up Brazilian crowd.
There is no point in talking about Teixeira being 42 because age doesn’t appear to have any relevance here, especially when you consider that Teixeira won six straight with five finishes before taking Prochazka — 12 years his junior — to the absolute limit at UFC 275 prior to succumbing to a fifth-round submission. Teixeira is one of those rare fighters who can do it all and do it consistently. He’s got knockout power, top-shelf submissions, and the cardio to fight all five frames against much younger competition. My only concern heading into this fight is the former champ’s ability to withstand the kill shot, which has felled him in three of his eight losses.
It’s been fun to watch Hill thrash-and-smash his way through the light heavyweight ranks and if you include his lone appearance on Dana White’s “Contender Series,” Hill has annihilated six of his last seven victims and yes, I’m including his destruction of Klidson Abreu — despite the subsequent “No Contest” — because cannabis suspensions are dumb and always have been. We haven’t seen Hill do five rounds in UFC but he’s gone 25 minutes in victory on the regional circuit so I don’t expect cardio to be an issue against Teixeira. It also helps that “Sweet Dreams” is tall and lean and doesn’t walk around with any unnecessary bulk. What could be an issue is his submission defense against one of the division’s best grapplers. Teixeira has nabbed four submission victories in his last four fights and I would expect that to be a major part of his gameplan. There is no reason to try to bang it out against a brick-fisted bruiser like Hill when the Brazilian can follow the Paul Craig blueprint and work for a limb.
That’s really what this fight boils down to. Teixeira has fought and defeated some of the best light heavyweights in the world and there is nothing Hill can throw at him that Teixeira hasn’t already seen and overcome. A well-timed (and well-executed) takedown leading to a submission seems like the safe bet. That said, I’ve also seen Teixeira adopt the Easter Island defense in his standup, leading to a couple of heartbreaking knockouts. I don’t think anyone would disagree that Teixeira is the better overall fighter with a superior resume, but I believe a loosey-goosey Hill with no pressure and nothing to lose is gonna let his hands go early and Teixeira may find himself flat on his back before he even realizes he’s in trouble.
Prediction: Hill def. Teixeira by knockout
125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson “Daico” Figueiredo (21-2-1) vs. Interim Flyweight Champion Brandon “Assassin Baby” Moreno (20-6-2)
UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo will battle longtime nemesis and current interim titleholder Brandon Moreno for the fourth straight time in the UFC 283 co-main event. The hype for this 125-pound rivalry has weakened over time, probably because it’s been front and center for the last three years with little room to breathe. It also doesn’t help that Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo were considered the two finest flyweights in the world before abandoning their posts. It would have been nice to see them complete their trilogy and even nicer to see title defenses against Figueiredo and Moreno. Unlike “Daico,” Moreno made a 125-pound pit stop at UFC 277 back in July, crushing top contender Kai Kara France and retaining his No. 1 spot in the division. It was a gutsy move considering what was at stake but that is one of many examples that highlight the character of Moreno. Figueiredo, meanwhile, was riding the pine with an injury or a bad attitude, perhaps both depending on who you ask.
The Brazilian gives up two inches in both height and reach but has a denser frame with more muscle and subsequently, more power. He’s also more dialed in with his striking accuracy (55%) compared to Moreno (39%), but falls short of his Mexican rival when it comes to striking defense. In terms of overall volume, they're roughly the same though Moreno holds a slight advantage in the wrestling. When you add up all three fights, “Assassin Baby” has both out-struck and out-wrestled “Daico” and I’m not expecting anything different here. If that was the only thing that mattered to the judges then you could pick Moreno and call it a day; however, Figueiredo has proven he’s been able to do more with less. Don't be surprised to see this weekend’s fight play out like their back-and-forth barnburner at UFC 270 roughly one year back. If that’s the case, it’s hard to pick against “Daico” in his own backyard, where every shot he lands will come with a cheer from the crowd. If you don’t think judges’ hear that sort of thing, you may be in for a surprise when this fight goes to the cards in Rio.
Prediction: Figueiredo def. Moreno by unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Gilbert “Durinho” Burns (20-5) vs. Neil “Haitian Sensation” Magny (27-9)
Longtime welterweight contender Gilbert Burns is currently ranked No. 5 at 170 pounds, which feels a little generous when you consider that “Durinho” only has one victory over a fighter currently ranked in the Top 15. That’s No. 6-ranked Stephen Thompson, who is back in everyone’s good graces after knocking around an overmatched (and oft-bewildered) Kevin Holland at UFC Orlando. Burns has racked up five performance bonuses in his UFC career — three within the last three years — which includes his all-action “Fight of the Night” opposite welterweight sensation Khamzat Chimaev.
That performance, much like his loss to Kamaru Usman, is a pretty good measuring stick for where the Brazilian belongs in the 170-pound pecking order. In short, he’s good enough to give anyone the fits at any time, but not good enough to get himself over the hump in the big spot. Burns beat Thompson with three takedowns and more than seven minutes of control time. Prior to that, “Durinho” walked through a shopworn Tyron Woodley and beat up a 40-something Demian Maia. I’m not looking to shit all over his wins, but how he won and his quality of opposition is relevant for the purposes of this column.
You can make many of the same arguments both for and against his opponent, welterweight mainstay Neil Magny. “The Haitian Sensation” has spent the better part of his UFC career bouncing in and out of the Top 10 and currently sits at No. 12, one spot below the declining Jorge Masvidal. The 35 year-old Magny, one year younger than his Brazilian foe, has captured six of his last eight, including his submission victory over Daniel Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 64. That was an important victory for the one-time Ultimate Fighter because it erased a disappointing loss to Shavkat Rakhmonov while also proving Magny is not going to be a “gimme” fight for anyone in the division. And to be fair, it’s not just young bucks that Magny has taken out, he’s also eliminated some notoriously troublesome welterweights like Geoff Neal and Max Griffin.
Magny is usually the more aggressive (and more successful) wrestler except in those instances where he’s outmatched in that particular skill set. Losses to Michael Chiesa and the aforementioned Rakhmonov come to mind. I think that’s going to be the deciding factor in this fight and they only have three rounds, so every takedown will be a pretty big deal. Burns is an outstanding grappler and knows how to protect himself on the ground, a place I expect him to be visiting quite often at UFC 283 because of his disadvantage in both height (5”) and reach (9”). Burns may have climbed higher up the ladder, but Magny’s suffocating style is about to drag him down a few pegs.
Prediction: Magny def. Burns by unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (23-9) vs. “Lucky” Lauren Murphy (16-5)
I don’t know if Jessica Andrade gets the love she deserves and that’s likely because “Bate Estaca” has been overshadowed by bigger names and even bigger drama in women’s MMA, but the Brazilian has been an important part of its growth across multiple divisions. I’m sure her inability to pick a weight class and stick with it has also hurt her stock, at least in terms of fan appeal, but Andrade holds the women’s record for performance bonuses at eight and is tied with bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes for most finishes, also at eight. She’s also a former champion with a violent win over Rose Namajunas. Her inconsistency has been her downfall but to be fair, her only four losses over the last seven years (a span of 14 fights) have come against Namajunas, Zhang Weili, Valentina Shevchenko, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, two current and two former champions. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, competitively speaking. Andrade’s all-violence style hasn’t changed much over the years, which is great for fans and even better for opponents who know exactly what to prepare for. That said, being ready for it and being able to withstand it are two different animals.
Lauren Murphy has come a long way since her stint on The Ultimate Fighter 26, where she went on to lose a unanimous decision to eventual winner Nicco Montano. Murphy would rebound with a split decision win over Barb Honchak in the series finale and since that performance, “Lucky” is 6-2 falling to Sijara Eubanks at UFC Fight Night 131 and Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 266. What you take away from her “Bullet” rebound victory over Miesha Tate may depend on where you rank the second version of “Cupcake,” who is just 1-3 since her summer 2021 return. As of this writing, Andrade is a whopping -530 favorite, which seems a little high when you consider what Murphy has done over the last few years. “Lucky” turns 40 in July and will no doubt be fighting on her back foot for most of the fight, so she’ll need to do something big — and do it often — if she hopes to turn the tide. Those 15 minutes go fast and just like a couple of the other big fights on this card, Andrade vs. Murphy could come down to which fighter is more successful with their takedowns. I’m picking Murphy, who will have a size advantage on fight night but more importantly, the experience and fight I.Q. required to use it effectively.
Prediction: Murphy def. Andrade by technical knockout
205 lbs.: Johnny Walker (19-7) vs. Paul “Bearjew” Craig (16-5-1)
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when Johnny Walker was the toast of the light heavyweight town, to the point where the Brazilian had the attention of then-division champion Jon Jones. The bloom came off the rose soon thereafter and Walker dropped four of five, getting knocked out twice in the process. Walker, who turns 31 in just a few weeks, got back into the win column with a first-round submission win over Ion Cutelaba at UFC 279, the night he got tossed from the building before getting the chance to get dressed (seriously). Walker remains dangerous with his imposing height (6’6”) and reach (82”), as well as his unorthodox style. I think the Cutlaba victory was good for his confidence and with any luck, fans will see the “old” Walker at UFC 283. Then again, I said that after his Ryan Spann victory and he went on to lose two straight, so at this point it’s hard to know what to expect. With four performance bonuses to his credit, we can at least count on an exciting fight.
Paul Craig is no stranger to performance bonuses himself, racking up seven of his own, two of which came in consecutive finishes over Ryan Spann and Nikita Krylov. The latter was enough to propel Craig to No. 8 in the 205-pound rankings, a spot he quickly surrendered after falling to former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at UFC London last July. “Bearjew” is currently seated at No. 9, one spot behind Krylov — who he beat — and one spot above Oezdemir — who beat him. That pretty much sums up the (cough) “official” UFC rankings for ya’ and I got kicked off the panel several years back for complaining about them. The 35 year-old Craig is one of the division’s most exciting fighters with 16 finishes in 16 wins, 13 of those coming by way of tap, nap, or snap. The aforementioned Krylov was able to beat Walker with three takedowns and more than 11 minutes of control time, a blueprint I expect Craig to follow on fight night — assuming he doesn’t eat a flying knee in the process.
Prediction: Craig def. Walker by submission
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