Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a UFC light heavyweight champion. First pay-per-view of 2023 Jamal Hill won the vacant belt by a brutal decision of the judges Glover Teixeiraannounced his retirement after a valiant effort in UFC 283. The bout headlined an eventful return to Brazil that also Brandon Moreno put an end to his rivalry with Davison Figueiredo, Mauricio Rua go to Valhalla MMA and much more.
With so much to discuss, let’s take a look at our six most important takeaways from UFC 283.
1. Imagine your confusion if someone told you in November that Jamahal Hill was going to be UFC Light Heavyweight Champion within the next three months. A side eye sent in their direction would become legendary. They would have been written off on the spot – and this should not even be an insult to Hill. It just wasn’t in the photo. Too many names were ahead of him in the divisional ladder. Champion by early 2023? No, maybe early 2024. However, when we wake up this Sunday morning, the new king of the earth at 205 pounds is the same man whose arm was brutally split in half by Paul Craig 19 months ago.
This is the state of MMA after the last few tumultuous years: the more we think we know, the less we actually understand.
But you know what? Half of this game comes down to timing, and Hill seized the moment.
He rose before our eyes at UFC 283. The two biggest question marks in his game have always been takedown defense and cardio. “Sweet Dreams” responded resoundingly to both. He rose to prominence in short order, delivered a championship performance on the most important night of his life, beat Glover Teixeira with sledgehammer after sledgehammer and never showed any sign of slowing down. It was a thorough beating from post to post. His athleticism and resourcefulness on his feet for 25 minutes was a revelation, and now it’s hard not to drool at the thought of how crazy the bats can be in a possible Hill gentlemen vs. Jiří Prochazka bout.
Last month I called the light heavyweight division a mess, and while I don’t think UFC 283 washed away all that weirdness, Hill’s breakout performance at least gives 205 pounds some semblance of much-needed direction (even if both Prochazka and Magomed Ankalaev probably , would be the favorite to bet against if booked tomorrow).
But let’s also look at the other side of the coin in Teixeira – because, frankly, I’m still in awe of this man. Just like that time traveler who showed up in November with the news of Hill’s fate would get a fucking sidelong look, they might have been locked up like crazy if they predicted in August 2018 how the finish line of Teixeira’s career ended. Teixeira of five years ago was an unsuccessful opponent who lost three of his last five fights and was brutally knocked out twice, one of which lasted the full 13 seconds.
His fate was to be signed, sealed, delivered. It was over.
Now? There can be legitimate debate about whether Teixeira is in the Hall of Fame.
(I mean… he probably is, right?)
It’s incredible. It’s unlikely that the last chapters of Teixeira will go down in history as the biggest retirement push for any UFC fighter other than Michael Bisping.
Teixeira’s version of the early 40’s was unbelievably tougher, more dangerous and more reliable than the mid 30’s version. If giving the world of MMA one of the greatest fights of all time was not enough, the fact that on Saturday he was able to take 232 significant punches from a knockout master 12 years his junior and not only break through to the points of his retired wrestling, but almost rallying for a miracle, ending in the final round, is yet another testament to the legend that Teixeira has become.
After all, Teixeira was right: He was too tough for his own good.
But damn if it wasn’t for a hell of a ride. Relax champion. You gave everything you had.
2. Legitimate question here: In terms of pure cage fighting, is Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo the greatest rivalry in UFC history?
Think about it. Sure, other shows have featured more lovable characters or been more historically significant in a broader sense, but in terms of the fights themselves and how they played out in the cage, how many other UFC rivalries can really compare?
In fact, only one thing comes to mind: Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard. This trilogy fits the bill, and ultimately it probably still holds the crown for me. But the fact that this is a real debate is wild enough. Who really expected this in December 2020 ahead of UFC 256?
As they say, it’s time to move on. Figueiredo seems to understand this too. The score was 2-1-1 and Moreno was more dominant in four bouts. Alexander Pantokha has long earned his shot at the UFC flyweight belt and up-and-coming talents such as Manel Kape, Muhammad Mokaev and Amir Albazi will soon earn their chances. Frankly, it’s impressive that Figueiredo has been making 125 pounds for so long, but now the matchmaking possibilities for him at 135 pounds are also endless. Everything about this saga has been positive. Flyweight is in healthier condition than ever before, and that’s only thanks to the dazzling performances of Figueiredo and Moreno over the past 25 months. Now it’s time for the rest of the division to join the fight.
3. There are only a handful of fighters in this game that I can directly point to as the reason my life went the way it did. And Mauricio Rua? He is one of them.
I was in high school in 2005 when the brutal spectacle of the Pride Fighting Championships first came to my attention. Watching the legendary Rua Grand Prix unfold in real time on grainy streams across half the world was an almost unfairly perfect start to turning a restless teenager into a lifelong MMA fan. No one in history has mastered the Pride FC ruleset better than Rua. His ruthless ingenuity with stomping and football kicks was on the verge of obscenity, and his 2005 remains one of the most impressive feats ever accomplished by a young fighter in MMA history. Imagine a 23-year-old boy materializing out of nowhere today and going through four of the best fighters in the world in five months, each performance more spectacular than the last. He was an icon at an age when most fighters weren’t starting their sea legs yet. And is that a nickname? All time. There are at least three old The Legend of Zelda files called “Shogun” buried somewhere in my closet.
Looking back over the past week, the fact that Rua was only 25 years old when he made his UFC debut still amazes me. For the past 15 years, he has looked old. The UFC’s production was very different from Pride’s and Rua lost so many of his best weapons upon his arrival in the US, yet he gave the MMA world many memorable moments in his post-premier run, beginning with Lyoto Machida’s title-winning night of acquittal in 2010. to his legendary wars of attrition with Dan Henderson.
Rua has had his ups and downs and has never looked like a Mr. Olympia, but he easily enters the Hall of Fame in the first round and remains in the All-Violence first team until the end of time. He deserved more than to be dance ridiculed by a random Challenge Series like Igor Potieria, but I’m glad he was at least given the chance to compete in Brazil among his adoring compatriots, and not in the sterile, empty arena of the UFC Apex.
Thanks for everything, Shogun. Your place in MMA history will never be forgotten.
four. Let’s have a quick matchmaking at welterweight after UFC 283, okay?
Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman 3
Khamzat Chimaev vs. Colby Covington
Belal Muhammad vs. Gilbert Burns
Now, doesn’t that look pretty?
I know Burns just called out Covington after his flawless win over Neil Magny, but Chimaev against Covington remains a move. It’s the perfect final mini-boss before dropping the title to Chimaev, and Burns has just spent a whole week of fighting berating Muhammad. It makes too much sense. Do it, UFC matchmakers, and we’ll be friends forever.
five. Hop on the Jailton Almeida train while you guys can because this car fills up fast.
If you have listened to any of our shows over the past year, you probably know that I already believed in MMA Fighting Rookie of the Year 2022. But after his fight with 31-pound Shamil Abdurakhimov at UFC 283? I’m officially all in. Maybe he’ll be heavyweight or maybe 205lbs, but Almeida is going to be fighting for titles and I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t have “UFC Champion” on his resume before it’s done.
The Prince of Positive Alexander K. Lee named him Giant Demian Maya wrestling and ground and pound Saturday and you know what? I don’t even mind the comparison. The way he easily showed his will against opponents in four matches in the octagon must be setting…