Marvin Vettori nearly defeated Israel Adesanya back in 2018 and will do whatever it takes to lock down a rematch with the current UFC middleweight champion.
Vettori, who meets Jack Hermansson in this weekend’s main event at UFC Vegas 16, fought “Last Stylebender” in a split decision loss back at UFC on FOX 29. It remains one of Adesanya’s toughest fights to date and a contest that showed how good Vettori truly is.
While a win over Hermansson would land Vettori just outside of the middleweight top five and close to a rematch with Adesanya, the Italian contender may have to wait a long time to get his hands on the champion again. That’s because Adesanya plans to put his middleweight reign on ice to move up in weight and challenge UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz early next year.
“It’s bullsh*t,” Vettori told reporters earlier this week when asked about Adesanya’s move up in weight. “It’s kind of bullsh*t. I think this guy just thinks he’s too much, he just thinks like he can do whatever he wants. To me, he still didn’t prove much. His last fight was good, but it was mainly like [Paulo] Costa beat himself going into that fight. The fight before, [Adesanya] he barely-Through my eyes, was basically one of the worst title fights ever and he basically lost against Yoel Romero. It didn’t really prove much, but the media are all over him.
“The main thing, to be honest, I think there’s not much great, hungry opposition in the top-5 at the moment. We’ve got Robert Whittaker just coming out of a win with Jared Cannonier saying that he’s interested, but really not, he’s just looking forward to enjoying Christmas, which is totally understandable. But man, it was like October, November, of course you can enjoy, but at the same time if you’re really about getting the title back you should be hungry for it. The No. 1 contender’s not that hungry anymore and strong, real, hungry opposition is not there, and after Saturday there will be. He better stay and not play around at light heavyweight, this and that… stay and face me.”
Vettori, who turned 27 this past September, is hoping that he can create new blood atop the division with a win at UFC Vegas 16. A victory over “Joker” would put Vettori on a four-fight win streak and rocket him towards the top of the division. That’s where Vettori would like to stay until he gets his rematch with Adesanya and proves he’s gotten better since their first meeting.
“I think I’ll beat him,” Vettori said. “I’ll overwhelm him. These guys go in and they underestimate him somehow or they get over their heads to go in overconfident. Adesanya is solid. You have to pressure him in the right way and I learned so much. I watched that fight not too long ago and I realized at that time I didn’t know so much of what he knew, especially in the standup, and I still did so well just by instinct. Now that I see everything that he’s doing and I’ve been studying him for a long time, it’s going to be a whole different game now.
“Even in the standup, I know the things that he’s gonna try to do and I don’t know if he’s gonna know what I’m gonna try to do, but I definitely can see whatever he’s trying to do and plus I have a massive advantage with the grappling. I think it’s going to be a completely different fight.”
Assuming Vettori has to wait until next year to get his matchup with the champ he’ll have to stay busy in the meantime. That’s why “Italian Dream” is targeting fellow contenders Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, and Jared Cannonier with a win this weekend at UFC Vegas 16.
“I think Costa is a very good matchup for me,” Vettori said. “But either of them, it’s good, I like all of them.”
UFC Vegas 16 will go down later night (Sat., Dec. 5, 2020) live on ESPN+/ESPN2 from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 16 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN2 preliminary card bouts at 8:00 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+/ESPN2 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.