UFC Vegas 23’s main event last night (Sat., April 10, 2021) wasn’t the barnburner we were all expecting. Marvin Vettori and Kevin Holland went to a five-round decision that saw “The Italian Dream” dominate “Trail Blazer” on the ground for 50-45, 50-45, 50-44 scores from the judges (watch highlights here). Honestly, it almost felt like a rerun of UFC Vegas 22’s Brunson vs. Holland main event, except Holland kept his “Big Mouth” largely shut this time as the much larger Middleweight ground him into the canvas for 25 minutes.
After the fight, Vettori seemed disappointed he didn’t get to uncork some serious violence.
“I’m like this, I expect perfection, I expect me going out and breaking this guy,” he said at the post-fight press conference. “I fell a little short on my expectation, but that short is still a great performance, a dominant performance.
“Going in, the gameplan was ... we knew he was really wild and either away or jumps in,” Vettori continued. “And that leads him to smother himself a lot and end up in the clinch. And I was like if he does do that, there’s not much of a point of me getting out and risking short elbows, cuz he throws those kinds of things, because I have great wrestling. So that’s what happened, really. I was going out, feeling comfortable standing, and he’s just throwing himself in. It’s just there.
“If you want to smother yourself and throw yourself at me, I’m going to wrestle. I have good wrestling. At the end of the day, I’m here to win and I’m the most versatile fighter, I can do everything. So if you’re going to give it to me, I’m going to take it.
“At the end of the day, 50-44, it’s as dominant as you can be.”
So what’s next for “The Italian Dream”? He’s feeling ready for a title shot against middleweight champ Israel Adesanya and past Saturday’s fight being a bit dull, it’s hard to deny his reasoning.
“Five win streak, accepting anybody at any time,” he said, listing off the reasons he should be next. “Always showing up, always making weight, never complaining about nothing. I just show up and I beat these guys very [dominatingly]. I leave no doubt. The last fight I had with Adesanya was the closest fight he ever had. In my eyes I still won it. And that fight has to be made again.”
Adesanya and Vettori engaged in a pretty back-and-forth scrap in 2018 that saw Adesanya win via split decision. While it was indeed a close fight, few in the media agree with Vettori’s view that he won the fight. He still did better than anyone not-named Jan Blachowicz when it came to going toe-to-toe with Adesanya, though.
UFC be like . “Oh y’all both wanna wrestle people, ok you & Derek gonna be wrestling each other” . #UFCVegas23— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) April 10, 2021
Much clarity regarding the Middleweight division will emerge next week on April 17, 2021, when UFC Vegas 24 features a clash between contenders Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. Of the two of them, Whittaker is the only man with enough recent wins to compete with Vettori for No. 1 contender status. So it boils down to Whittaker, Vettori and Derek Brunson.
“I don’t think Robert Whittaker is that hungry,” Vettori said. “And next week I want Dana to give me a ticket for me to sit next to him to watch the fight. That fight will say a lot. But regardless, I think I’m next in line and I deserve it. I was supposed to fight Darren Till, but Darren Till didn’t show up. Now he’s out, I’m the most hungry by any means. I’m next, I’m next. Nobody has the winning streak that I have. All my opponents have been solid. I’m next.”
For complete UFC Vegas 23 results and coverage click here.