Since there is usually some difficulty for wrestlers to jump into traveling abroad, PPV cards outside of North America usually have at least one match on the main card that doesn’t have to be on a PPV main card. Maybe it has something to do with the UFC not being in Brazil for a while, that’s not the case this time for UFC 283.
None of the main card fights are filler, and each of the contests qualifies as a fight that could realistically headline a Fight Night card. That doesn’t mean they’d be top-tier Fight Night headliners, but that’s not what it takes to be a reasonable PPV main card contest. Regardless, the quality of the contests in combination with the two title fights makes it well worth the price of admission, even with the price increase, once again, for UFC PPVs.
To see the preview of the first preliminaries, click here. For televised preliminaries, click here.
gilbert burns against Neil Magny, welterweight
There may not be a more underrated member of the UFC roster than Magny. The UFC’s all-time leader in wins in the welterweight division, fans tend to react with a groan more often than not when they see his name on a card. Much of that is because he earned a reputation as a boring fighter, although I would argue that he is undeserved. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Magny is an action fighter, but the lack of finishes doesn’t mean he’s boring either. Regardless, Magny has been wavering in the top ten of the welterweight rankings for the past five or six years. That alone deserves a level of respect that fans seem reluctant to give it.
It may have taken Burns a little longer to break into the top ten, but unlike Magny, he has broken into the top five. However, it can be argued that Burns has received favorable matchups to get to his current spot. Sure, Burns was competitive with Kamaru Usman and Khamzat Chimaev. Ultimately though, it was losses and his wins to secure his title shot with Usman came 42-year-old Demian Maia and washed-out Tyron Woodley. Also, the most recent win for him, Stephen Thompson, is another fighter who also seems to be on the wrong end of his prime. Burns did what he was supposed to do by beating those guys, but in hindsight, none of them seem as good as we thought they were when they fought Burns.
That being said, while I don’t think this fight is the automatic win for Burns as many see it, there is no question that Burns is the legitimate favorite. While Magny has proven to be a respectable fighter, he has a very tough ceiling against the best fighters in the division. That was established several years ago when Maia and Rafael dos Anjos did what they wanted to him on the canvas. Magny seems to have improved a bit since those losses, but his loss to Michael Chiesa indicates he’s still a problem. It’s no secret that Burns is one of the best pure BJJ practitioners on the list. As Burns deepened his UFC career, he became even more effective at blending the elements of MMA into his ground game, adding a degree of physicality that allowed him to live up to the high expectations he had placed on him when entered the organization.
There are a few things to keep in mind if Magny is going to get a chance. First, Burns has been through some potentially career-changing battles. Those losses to Usman and Chimaev saw him absorb a lot of heavy artillery into his chin. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him very washed out after those fights. That Burns has spent several years making a tough cut to 155 is another factor that could contribute to his fading. Also, Magny’s fighting IQ is vastly underrated. He understands his strengths and weaknesses and fights him accordingly…if he can. If Burns has slowed down a bit, Magny’s weird reach will cause problems and he knows how to smother opponents against the cage if they close the gap. The path to victory is there for Magny.
While there is a route to victory, Burns is likely to put a big hurdle in front of that route. Burns is not only the best fighter on the ground, he is the best fighter in the pocket. Also, he is more power puncher too. Did I mention that he is also a better pure athlete? Kudos to Magny for not only asking for the Burns fight, but for taking it on in the hostile environment that is Brazil. Unfortunately, this is a bad matchup for him. Magny is resourceful and durable, but that alone should be enough to get him to the final bell instead of a win this time. Decision burns
Jessica Andrade against lauren murphyWomen’s flyweight
Andrade’s MMA journey is one of the most exciting in UFC history. Beginning her UFC career as a bantamweight, she was a dangerous but limited fighter in that weight class given her short stature. It wasn’t long after she opened up the strawweight division that she dropped down to 115, working her way to the title. However, she came up short in her first defense and ended up suffering losses to every one of the wrestlers who have circled that division’s title picture. Feeling that the path to the title was blocked in that division, she opted to go to flyweight where she earned another title shot. After coming up short there, she decided to work her way up to second place at both flyweight and strawweight, taking fights that sound interesting to her. Murphy is certainly an interesting fight for Andrade.
Although Andrade is small at flyweight, she is still a physical force. Despite several losses throughout her career, she maintains the confidence and aggressiveness typically reserved for an undefeated youngster who believes herself to be invincible. Also, Andrade’s strength held up well even when she was fighting at bantamweight. She may be stronger at flyweight since she’s not getting too dehydrated. Of course, she’s also fighting stronger women at flyweight, something Valentina Shevchenko proved was going to be a problem for her in certain matchups.
The question is whether Murphy is one of those matchups. Murphy is about as scrappy and enduring as he gets. She doesn’t hit harder. She is not a magician in terms of fighting. Hell, she’s not a technical marvel by any means either. Murphy is constantly in the face of her opponent, working on them with her skillful wrestling and boxing combinations. What often happens is that her opponents get so frustrated with her constant work rate that they find it hard to keep up or tend to withdraw. Of course, staying in front of opponents is also Andrade’s game…
When Andrade loses, it is because of his opposition using an exceptional technique. Joanna Jedrzejczek used space, angles and a stiff jab to keep Andrade at bay. Rose Namajunas did something similar. Reigning flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko scored takedowns at will with precision. That’s not Murphy’s style. Murphy is strong for the division, but not strong enough to make up for the technical deficiencies he has, at least not against Andrade. Maybe she can get lucky and hit Andrade since the Brazilian’s chin has been broken. However, even that is unlikely as Murphy tends to wear down her opposition bit by bit rather than getting the job done all at once. Murphy’s grit will allow her to last until the end of the fight or the final bell, but she’s not the best Andrade at her own game, especially at the age of 39. Andrade via decision
Paul Craig against Johnny Walker, light heavyweight
Fortunately for fight fans, Craig has reneged on the idea of retiring at the age of 35. Given that few expected the Scotsman to work his way into the top ten of the light heavyweight division when he first signed, it appears he is becoming a victim of his own success in terms of his original timeline for stepping away from the sport. . He’s still a long shot at fighting for gold one day, but it’s worth noting that he has a win over one of the men who will fight for gold at the top of this card. It’s not like regional days. Craig beat Jamahal Hill just 19 months ago….
Although he is one of the worst pure athletes in the division, Craig is also one of the most dangerous finishers in the division. There may not be a more dangerous fighter on the entire UFC roster than Craig. He can throw down a triangle choke in the blink of an eye, as he’s secured five of them that have led directly to a victory since he joined the UFC. I’m saying he drove straight to the win since technically it wasn’t a triangle choke that ended Hill’s night; he was the dislocated elbow. Some of the best submission artists to grace the Octagon have never earned a triangle choke victory. Craig has five. While that’s certainly his signature move, he’s not a one-trick pony either. Craig’s long limbs are ideal for entangling his opponents if he can win them back too.
That being said, the path to victory over Craig is pretty easy: keep the fight on your feet. Despite Craig’s takedown attempts, Volkan Oezdemir managed to keep the fight on its feet, snapping Craig’s six-fight unbeaten streak. There is no doubt that Walker can do that. He not only can he match Craig’s 76” reach, but he surpasses him by a good six inches. Also, Walker is one of the best athletes on the list. He should be able to avoid Craig’s mad runs to take the fight to the ground instead of fighting them. The question is whether Walker will have the fighting IQ to do that.
Walker has several incredible KOs on highlight reels on his ledger, which is what he is primarily known for. However, he’s also known for being the guy who separated his shoulder celebrating one of those wins. There are signs that Walker is maturing, as he opted to tangle Ion Cutelaba on the canvas rather than risk the wild man landing a powerful overhand over Walker’s fragile chin. Of course, it also raises concerns that Walker will get it into his head that he may be on the canvas with Craig…
Walker should win this. Stylistically, this fight favors him as he is getting faster than Craig by leaps and bounds. Also, while Craig is tougher than a two-dollar steak, he’s not durable enough that he won’t break his chin, especially by Walker. But the combination of Walker’s stupid instincts and Craig’s cunning is something that can’t be ignored. Even more in Craig’s favor is Walker’s habit of fading down the stretch; all of his UFC victories have come within the first round. Ultimately, he chose Walker, but he wouldn’t throw money at this fight if he was a gambler. Walker via KO of RD1