Four Underrated Storylines For UFC 263

Saturday’s UFC 263 card is stacked with two title fights, the return of Nate Diaz, and the added bonus of having fans back in the arena. While the focus has mainly been on Israel Adesanya’s rematch against Marvin Vettori, here’s a look at four storylines that may have been lost in the shuffle.

Nate Diaz: Biggest Betting Underdog Of His Career?  

Per Fanduel, Nate Diaz is currently a +410 underdog (bet $100 to win $410) against Leon Edwards in their five-round, non-title, welterweight main card fight at UFC 263 this Saturday. If the line holds, Diaz would be the biggest betting underdog of his 32-fight career. Only his 2016 matchup against Conor McGregor comes close to that number, where the line closed at +280 and Diaz ended up cashing that with a second-round submission victory over “The Notorious” at UFC 196. While it’s not a favorable matchup on paper, Diaz really has nothing to lose on Saturday with rematches against McGregor and Jorge Masvidal potentially in his back pocket. Edwards on the other hand needs to win this fight if he ever wants a rematch against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

Demian Maia’s Last Fight?

 

 

Submission ace Demian Maia will be turning 44 in November and Saturday’s main card bout against Belal Muhammad could be the last fight of his career. Currently a +194 underdog per Fanduel, Maia is looking to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since May 2018. Muhammad on the other hand is riding a five-fight unbeaten streak and at 32-years of age appears to be in the prime of his career. Maia was knocked out in his last fight against Gilbert Burns over a year ago and another stoppage loss could make a decision to retire a bit easier.

Valentina Shevchenko’s Next Opponent?

Joanne Calderwood may finally get her long-awaited UFC title shot should she get past Lauren Murphy this Saturday. The Syndicate MMA standout is currently a -148 favorite against Murphy and looks to pick up her second straight victory since losing to Jennifer Maia last August. On the flip side, Murphy might be the most underrated flyweight on the roster as “Lucky” has racked up an impressive four-fight win streak, including a second-round finish over Liliya Shakirova at UFC 254 in her last fight. Don’t be surprised if the winner of this matchup earns a shot at women’s 125-pound champion Valentina Shevchenko next.

 

New Light Heavyweight Contender?

There’s a reason Jamahal Hill and Paul Craig are fighting each other on pay-per-view card this Saturday with both 205-pound juggernauts being known for finishing their opponents. In the case of Hill, the 30-year-old has remained unbeaten through three UFC fights, most recently knocking out Ovince St. Preux at UFC Fight Night in December. Craig is coming off a stoppage victory over MMA legend Maurício Rua and has submitted five of his 10 UFC opponents. Don’t be surprised if the winner of this matchup earns a highly ranked opponent in their next fight.

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