In the first card on Brazilian soil in three years, Saturday’s UFC 283 pay-per-view event produced no shortage of fireworks and big-time moments in Rio de Janeiro.
Along with a pair of title bouts atop the marquee, the card also featured 17 different Brazilian-born fighters across 15 fights. Legendary light heavyweight Mauricio “Shogun” Rua also said goodbye after the close of a 21-year career and retired featherweight king Jose Aldo was brought to tears cageside when it was announced he would headline the 2023 UFC Hall of Fame class.
Let’s take a closer look at the biggest takeaways from the action inside the Octagon.
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1. Jamahal Hill earned every inch of the UFC light heavyweight title
There was no shortage of criticism for UFC brass after a December draw between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev for the vacant 205-pound title led to president Dana White hastily ordering Glover Teixeira to face the No. 7-ranked Hill for the belt. But the extra miles inside the cage that Hill was forced to go by the former champion Teixeira and his otherworldly level of toughness went a long way in making Hill feel very much the legitimate champion when all was said and done. Hill stayed off his back for the entirety of Round 1 to set a tone that Teixeira wouldn’t be able to manhandle him on the ground. From there, Hill chipped away on the feet with superb boxing and incredible poise throughout while showcasing five-round championship stamina and passing every single test Teixeira had for him.
This was a mature, breakthrough performance for a 31-year-old fighter who was largely unheralded despite an 11-1 record coming in. So many others would’ve buckled in his spot had they not been fully ready for the opportunity because Teixeira simply wouldn’t capitulate even as extreme swelling and blood around his eyes compromised his vision and kept himself seemingly one punch away from rallying the entire fight. Even as Teixeira rallied to take Hill down in Round 5, sliding into full mount for a brief time, Hill never crumbled and broke down emotionally after the final horn once it became clear his dreams had come true, even if many had so vocally counted him out.
2. Glover Teixeira’s post-fight retirement was right on time
Teixeira said it himself after the fight, admitting he’s probably too tough for his own good before he confirmed the unanimous decision loss in his third shot at UFC gold would be his last. For a fighter who already drastically redefined his legacy by upsetting his way to the title at age 42 in 2021, the performance Teixeira saved for last against Hill was as memorable and impressive as any of his 33 pro wins. There was a moment after Round 4, as the cageside doctor examined his badly damaged face, that Teixeira’s corner would’ve been justified in throwing in the towel simply to prevent Teixeira from compromising his own eventual retirement. A noted knockout artist who entered Saturday on a three-fight finishing streak, Hill landed the kind of head kicks and powerful right hands that would’ve finished 99% of the planet, yet Teixeira never stopped pressuring forward in a performance as inspirational as it was insane. Known for his kind heart and demeanor, Teixeira might not get the same acclaim typically reserved for Brazilian MMA heroes like Rua, Aldo, Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva or Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but he belongs at the same table as any of them based upon what’s inside of him. UFC 283 marked a close to one of the most exciting second chapters in MMA history.
3. Brandon Moreno left no doubt as to who won the flyweight title quadrilogy
Despite a chorus of boos and a barrage of trash thrown at him by a pro-Deveison Figueiredo crowd, Moreno successfully brought some closure toand it wasn’t even all that close. Moreno twice escaped legitimate submission attempts from Figueiredo but dominated him in just about every other aspect. Not only did Moreno improve to 2-1-1 against Figueiredo, thus making him the winner of the rivalry, his two victories were both largely one-sided stoppages. Even with a late camp change after trainer Jason Krause was banned by UFC amid a gambling scandal, Moreno kept his poise and was crisp with his striking. A left hook in Round 3 opened a second cut around Figueiredo’s right eye, which swelled shut and caused the cageside doctor to inspect after the round and advise referee Herb Dean to end the fight. Figueiredo announced he’s officially moving up to bantamweight in the post-fight interview allowing Moreno a second chance to build a sustained title reign.
4. Gilbert Burns is still a problem for the welterweight division
Unable to lure Colby Covington or Jorge Masvidal into a big-money fight, Burns chose to stay busy against the always game Neil Magny. And at 36, sporting a youthful set of curls atop his head, Burns looked as if a potential second run at a 170-pound title shot is still within reach after dominating Magny en route to a first-round submission. After brawling for three rounds against Khamzat Chimaev in his last outing in a disputed decision defeat, Burns turned his focus back to his strength of grappling and boldly announced after the win that there isn’t another welterweight alive he couldn’t do the same against. Oh yeah, and “Durinho” also added a mic drop moment to close by calling out Covington once more.