Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) finishers Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori battled it out last night (April 14, 2018) at UFC on FOX 29 from inside Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
“Style Bender” entered last night’s contest as one of the most exciting prospects in the sport. A seriously decorated professional kickboxer who had finished each of his mixed martial arts (MMA) fights via knockout, it’s not hard to understand why. Still, Vettori was definitely a step up in competition for Adesanya, making this an important contest for the knockout artist.
With all the hype around Adesanya, it was easy to forget that Vettori is a young and talented fighter himself. The Italian is a strong grappler with some heavy hitting of his own, so it wasn’t wise to fully count him out, underdog or not.
Vettori came out aggressive with kicks, while Adesanya moved and picked at his foe with low kicks. It didn’t take long for Vettori to attempt his first clinch takedown attempt, but “Stylebender” was able to keep on his feet.
Given some time to work, Adesanya began to rip into Vettori’s lead leg more frequently. The jab also connected well for the kickboxer. More than anything else, Adesanya’s active feints were really throwing the Italian off, who did manage to land a few good kicks. However, Adesanya picked up on that too and began countering the kicks with hard punches.
Vettori wasn’t out of it, but “Stylebender” looked sharp early.
Vettori actually found a bit of success to start the second, landing a few clean crosses and getting in deep on a takedown. Unfortunately for the Italian, Adesanya kept his feet underneath him, recovered to the center of the cage, and began setting up heavy power shots with his feints. In addition, that inside low kick continued to knock Vettori’s leg out from under him.
Adesanya really began teeing off in the second half of the round. He smashed Vettori with a brutal elbow and gave Vettori many chances to show off his impressive chin. Vettori did find a touch of success just by throwing with abandon near the end of the round, but Adesanya had already done so much damage that he couldn’t maintain his blitz for long.
Vettori needed a finish with five minutes remaining.
Luckily, Vettori was aware of that fact, and he came out aggressive in the third. Backing his foe up with the jab, Vettori level changed into a single leg that seemed to be stuffed, but the Italian was able to chain wrestle and finish. Adesanya was patient, eventually using the fence to wall-walk.
Instead of separating, Adesanya attempted a throw and caused a scramble, which eventually allowed Vettori to take top position once more. The Italian could do little with his top position, though, and “Stylebender” returned to his feet with a minute remaining. Adesanya scored some decent strikes there, but all that grappling slowed him significantly.
Both men landed until the final bell. While Vettori did manage to capture the third, it was not enough for him to fully rally and steal the decision.
Adesanya showed both his talent and current limitations. On the feet, Adesanya is both classically skilled and creative. His use of feints is better than the vast majority of MMA fighters, and he builds from them with effective offense extremely well. There’s also the simple fact that his reach and build make him a formidable striker.
Defensively, Adesanya was there to be hit a bit. Whether that’s the result of the takedown threat or smaller gloves, Vettori tended to land whenever he threw in combination. On the bright side, those were not unanswered blows, as Adesanya routinely fired back with sharp counters.
At the moment, Adesanya will lose if he faces a quality wrestler. He showed good instincts though, and that may not be the case with further experience.
Given his game, Vettori accomplished quite a bit. He wasn’t able to land the takedown until his opponent’s athleticism had faded a bit, which meant Vettori had to compete with Adesanya on the feet for most of the first two rounds. Though he was technically out-classed, Vettori landed some hard shots and ensured that his opponent was working the entire time.
The bigger issue for Vettori was that he wasn’t able to do much in the third with his top position. He wasn’t aggressive enough, allowing Adesanya to work back to guard or go to stand up. If Vettori had tried to pass or grab a guillotine, the end result may have been different.
Last night, Israel Adesanya continued his winning ways even if it wasn’t his usual knockout. Who should Adesanya face next?
For complete UFC on FOX 29 “Gaethje vs. Poirier” results and play-by-play, click HERE!