The first pay-per-view of 2023 is here, and it sure is a good one! The UFC is leaving the USA and heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where it features two championship bouts. The first of which being the Co-Main Event which is the fourth fight of the first quadrilogy in UFC history where flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo will take on interim flyweight champion Brandon Moreno for what looks to be the last time. The second of which is the Main Event of the evening, a matchup between former light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira and rising star Jamahal Hill for the vacant light heavyweight championship. *Odds presented by Betfred Sportsbook.
Fight One: Daniel Marcos (13-0) (+120) vs Saimon Oliveira (18-4) (-145)
Winner: Daniel Marcos by Decision
Fight Two: Josiane Nunes (9-1) (-565) vs Zarah Fairn (6-4) (+405)
Winner: Josiane Nunes by KO/TKO
Fight Three: Warlley Alves (14-5) (-130) vs Nicolas Dalby (20-4-1) (+110)
Winner: Warlley Alves by KO/TKO
Fight Four: Terrance McKinney (13-4) (-115) vs Ismael Bonfim (18-3) (-105)
Winner: Terrance McKinney by KO/TKO
Fight Five: Luan Lacerda (12-1) (+290) vs Cody Stamann (20-5-1) (-380)
Winner: Cody Stamann by Decision
Fight Six: Jailton Almeida (17-2) (-1115) vs Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-7) (+670)
Winner: Jailton Almeida by KO/TKO
Fight Seven: Gabriel Bonfim (13-0) (-165) vs Mounir Lazzez (11-2) (+140)
Winner: Gabriel Bonfim by Submission
Fight Eight: Thiago Moises (16-6) (-375) vs Melquizael Costa (19-5) (+285)
Winner: Thiago Moises by Decision
Fight Nine: Gregory Rodrigues (13-4) (-325) vs Brunno Ferreira (9-0) (+255)
Winner: Gregory Rodrigues by KO/TKO
Fight 10: Mauricio Rua (27-13-1) (+175) vs Ihor Potieria (18-3) (-215)
Winner: Ihor Poteria by KO/TKO
Fight 11: Paul Craig (16-5-1) (+165) vs Johnny Walker (19-7) (-200)
Winner: Johnny Walker by KO/TKO
To lead off the main card, Paul Craig looks to bounce back from his loss to Volkan Oezdemir by shutting down the confidence of hometown fighter Johnny Walker. Craig’s fights are alway very interesting to make a prediction on because he is such a unique fighter. Craig is either to take this fight to the ground early and submit Walker, or he will be unable to do that and Walker is going to land at will on the feet and win by knockout. Unfortunately for Craig, I think that he is looking at his second straight loss in this fight. Walker is at his worst when he is facing an opponent with a threat to knock him out, and that is not what Craig brings to the table. Walker also proved that if he gets top position, he can be pretty dangerous and can hold his positions well. I think this fight ends up being a lot like Craig’s last fight with Oezdemir, where he gets beat up on the feet and eventually tries to keep pulling guard, but unsuccessfully. Later into the fight, when Craig is worn down, Walker’s power will eventually get the better of Craig and the fight will end via TKO.
Fight 12: Jessica Andrade (23-9) (-535) vs Lauren Murphy (16-5) (+390)
Winner: Jessica Andrade by KO/TKO
If you want to see an exciting female fighter in the UFC, my top choice would be Jessica Andrade, which is why I am so excited for this fight. Both of these fighters are coming in with momentum as Andrade is on a two fight win streak with a submission of the year win over Amanda Lemos her last time out. Lauren Murphy is coming off a win over former UFC champion Miesha Tate. I expect this to be a fun fight all the way until Andrade gets her finish. The key factor that leads me to confidently pick Andrade is her superior athleticism. Murphy is a good distance striker, but she does not have the same athletic movement and explosiveness as Andrade.
I also believe Andrade holds the grappling advantage in this fight and has shown she can land explosive takedowns on just about anyone. When it comes down to it though I think this fight will primarily take place on the feet where Murphy will try to counter the explosiveness of Andrade with point strikes, but I don’t think it will be enough for her. Andrade’s power and speed mixed with her excellent cardio will allow her to avoid the strikes of Murphy throughout the fight and land powerful strikes of her own. One or a combination of which will eventually put Murphy away.
Fight: 13: Gilbert Burns (20-5) (-475) vs Neil Magny (27-9) (+355)
Winner: Gilbert Burns by Decision
Former title challenger Gilbert Burns makes his return to the Octagon to take on all-time welterweight wins leader Neil Magny who is coming off a win in his last fight. Unlike some other fights on this card, this is one I feel pretty definitive on, as the odds back it up. In his last three fights especially, Burns has faced some of the best talent in the UFC, and has come out 1-2 while holding his own in all three fights. Almost two years ago Burns challenged Kamaru Usman for the welterweight championship, and although he was knocked out, Burns had his moments and even rocked Usman on the feet. His next time out, he took on Stephen Thompson and showed how good of a grappler he is to earn a decision win over a top contender in the division. Most recently Burns has done what most fighters have not had the guts to do and that is take on Khamzat Chimaev. Burns didn’t just fight Chimaev, he almost won. Burns actually out-landed Chimaev in terms of significant strikes, which is something no one else has done.
On the other side of this fight, Magny is 3-2 in his last five fights but against nowhere near the same level of competition, and when he faced a top prospect like Shavkat Rakhmanov he was dominated. As much as it seemed like Burns wanted to focus primarily on striking in his fights with Chimaev and Usman, I actually think Burns is going to end up doing his best work in this fight on the ground. A pattern I have noticed with Burns is that when he faces someone who poses a threat to beat him on the ground he tries to engage in a brawl on the feet, like what he did with Usman and Chimaev, but he does the opposite with primary strikers. With them, he tries to take the fight to the mat and dominate there, like what he did to Thompson. I think Burns will employ that strategy again and showcase his grappling in this fight to earn a decision win.
Co-Main Event: Deiveson Figueiredo (21-2-1) (+100) vs Brandon Moreno (20-6-2) (-120)
Winner: Deiveson Figueiredo by Decision
For the first time in UFC history, two fighters will be going against each other for the fourth time. This trilogy has been one of the best in UFC history, where UFC fans have been treated to some of the most high-level fights of all time, and I don’t see this one being any different. This fight is totally a toss up, but I am going to go with the defending champion in Deiveson Figueiredo. Both Figueiredo and Moreno have looked impressive in all three of their meetings, but without a groin strike landed by Figueiredo in their first meeting, this fourth would never have occurred. Along with that, although the third meeting was close on the judges scorecards scored at 48-47, I thought that Figueiredo looked like the definitively better fighter. Another downside for Moreno is that due to the scandal involving James Krause, Moreno has had to switch to a new gym. That is concerning to me, especially when going against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world when they are both so even.
I fully expect this will be very similar to their first and third meetings, where it is a five round war that goes to the judge’s scorecards and ends up being a close decision. With the fight being in Brazil, Figueiredo will have the hometown momentum which could back him up enough to take home the victory. Although I am leaning towards Figueiredo, this is not a fight that I would advise betting on as both have found ways to defeat each other in the past, giving no clear-cut winner in my mind.
Main Event: Glover Teixeira (33-8) (+120) vs Jamahal Hill (11-1) (-140)
Winner: Glover Teixeira by Submission
What a Main Event to kick off the first pay-per-view of 2023! Glover Teixeira looks to claim his second light heavyweight title, while Jamahal Hill is looking for his first, and looking to prove he is a true star in the UFC. This fight was very hard to come to a decision on, as it is a fight that is riddled with question marks for both fighters. For Teixeira, he is now 43 years old, making him part of a three-way tie for the oldest fighter on the roster. Teixeira was also just a part of one of the most brutal fights of all-time where he came out the loser against Jiri Prochazka, which most likely caused him a lot of damage. Teixeira’s age mixed with the damage absorbed in his last fight are causes for concern in this matchup, but he has proven that he should never be counted out of a fight in the past, and I don’t believe that stops here.
Hill is also faced with some questions, including concerns about experience heading into this high-level of a matchup. Hill is going from being the seventh ranked fighter in the division all the way up to fighting for the belt, which is a huge jump. In his only loss in the UFC, Hill was also submitted by Paul Craig and Teixeira poses a formidable threat on the ground, making this a dangerous fight for Hill. After careful consideration, I will be taking the former champion, Glover Teixeira, to get his belt back. The only way that I see Hill winning this fight is by an early knockout, but I think Teixeira will have enough experience defensively to avoid those power shots early. Hill was also taken down six times by Thiago Santos, who is an inferior grappler to Teixeira. This leads me to believe that as long as Teixeira fights intelligently and uses his superior grappling to keep the fight on the mat, he should be able to find a submission and get his belt back.