The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Glendale, Arizona for the first time in well over a year tonight, as UFC 263 goes underway live on pay-per-view.
Headlining the event is a championship bout between UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and No. 3 ranked UFC middleweight contender Marvin Vettori, a rematch from their 2018 scrap that saw Adesanya the victor via split decision.
Co-headlining the event is another championship rematch, this one between UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and former WFF & LFA flyweight champion, No. 1 ranked UFC flyweight contender Brandon Moreno.
Nate Diaz also returns tonight in the feature fight of the evening, as he faces No. 3 ranked Leon Edwards in the UFC’s first ever five-round non-title, non-main event bout.
Right in the middle of the prelims came the first rematch of the night, a middleweight bout between Eryk Anders (13-5) 1 NC and Darren Stewart (12-6) 1 NC.
These two battled to a late first round no contest in March after Anders illegally kneed the downed Stewart.
Now they each get the chance to right the wrongs they made in that fight; Stewart was losing the exchanges, and Anders shot himself in the foot with the illegal strike.
Continue reading to see how this 185 lb bout went down.
Official Result: Eryk Anders def. Darren Stewart via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Stewart comes out much lighter on his feet this time around than he did for their first, and he gets off a few nice leg kicks before Anders presses him into the fence. Stewart reverses the position and keeps Anders’ back along the fence however, the exact opposite of what happened three months ago.
Stewart secures a beautiful knee-tap double leg with about 50 seconds left and remains on top until the end of the round.
Anders comes out with a sense of urgency to start round two and presses Stewart into the fence, while doing next to nothing, merely the entire round.
This has been a pattern we’ve seen.
No disrespect to Anders, but the fans aren’t the happiest with this bout at the moment. This is what he does, he tries to bully his opponents with his size and strength, without using really any technique. It’s worked for him about half the time.
Just as we’re giving Anders shit for not doing much, he gets taken down to start round three, but reverses it and ends up on top. He passes over to Stewart’s half guard and reigns down some punches.
Anders is a big guy to have laying on you, and Stewart is feeling that right now as he’s attempting to get up.
The Alabama native continues with the top control, he really is doing a great job here in round three.
Stewart is able to get up at the very end of the round, eating more punches for his troubles, but wasn’t able to get any strikes off himself to attempt securing a finish, as Anders stayed glued to him.
It’s something, this fight.
Stewart looked like he’d fixed the mistakes he made in their first fight, then it fell apart in the next two. Anders barely did enough to win round two, but he did have the octagon control nonetheless.
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.