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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC Vegas 75’s Marvin Vettori

Veteran Middleweight contender, Marvin Vettori, will battle knockout artist, Jared Cannonier, this Saturday (June 17, 2023) at UFC Vegas 75 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Vettori is a proven Top 5 Middleweight, fresh off defending his position opposite rising would-be contender, Roman Dolidze. The problem for the Italian, however, is that the two men ranked above him in Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya have dominated him fairly recently. What’s the path forward for Vettori? He has an opportunity here to pick up another elite victory, but does that push him forward much in the title picture? It’s not going to be easy for Vettori to advance any further up the ladder, and treading water at the highest level is a massively difficult ask.

Let’s take a closer look at his skill set:

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UFC 286: Vettori v Dolidze Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images


Vettori has great conditioning and is as tough as they come, invaluable assets in any facet of the game. On the feet, he’s a high-volume striker with incredible durability and strong fundamentals.

There is nothing incredibly standout about Vettori’s kickboxing game. He doesn’t have true one-punch power or a devastating singular kick. However, Vettori does put together combinations better than most, particularly while pressing forward and closing the distance.

Vettori is quick to begin establishing the jab. That’s a weapon that has really improved for him over the years, as he used to be a bit more predictable in his timing. Nowadays, Vettori can double up the jab well, feint with it, and snap the strike without committing his body weight. It’s unusual for a Southpaw to have such an educated jab, but Vettori uses it well to line up his cross.

Vettori’s best combination is likely the double jab-cross, as the Southpaw does a nice job advancing past his opponents lead leg to a favorable angle without getting his weight ahead of himself, meaning he’s still able to deliver a solid cross. After the left hand, Vettori will commonly add on a slapping right hook.

Against Andrew Sanchez, Vettori’s ability to string together combinations was on full display, largely because his opponent relied on a high guard more than movement. Given a relatively stationary target, Vettori led with the cross more often to close distance, doubling and tripling up on his right hook immediately afterward from a shorter range. With Sanchez still covering, Vettori would also look to slam home a left knee after the right hook raised the guard.

In his first bout with Adesanya, Vettori’s ability to put together combinations and fight as a complete mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter was important. Vettori couldn’t keep up with Adesanya in a pure striking battle, but he still mixed together kick and punch combinations, which makes it more difficult to slip punches (GIF). In addition, Vettori’s willingness to close distance into the clinch or shot helped muddy the waters further, taking away some of Adesanya’s precision.

A great show of progress was Vettori’s performance against Jack Hermansson, which stands out as a remarkable showcase on the importance of footwork and range in an open stance match up. Against his right-handed foe, Vettori repeatedly used his jab to win the outside foot position, lining up his left hand. He was crisp and accurate early, and as a result, his straight nearly ended the bout right away (GIF).

The finish didn’t materialize, but the damage was done. Hermansson was now justifiably wary of his foe’s cross, which continued to connect at a good clip. Vettori smartly used the threat of his left hand to back Hermansson into the cage, where he landed further punches and takedowns to remain in control of the bout and further build his lead.

In Vettori’s two most recent losses, he was out-worked by excellent range technicians in Adesanya and Whittaker. At a certain level, fundamentals alone often aren’t enough, as those two have great form and very complex trickery.

Vettori’s last bout against Dolidze showed some development in that regard, as well as highlighted his recent time training in Thailand. I don’t know that many expected Vettori to willingly play the outside game, working distance shots and counters. That’s far from his typical modus operandi, but the Italian played the matador nicely against a dangerous opponents.

Two improvements really stood out in that bout. First and foremost, Vettori’s defense was sharper. He did a great job of blocking Dolidze’s dangerous overhand, as well as rolling his hooks. That’s not to say he left the 15-minute scrap untouched, but it certainly was an improvement.

Vettori also played the low kick game quite well. His outside low kicks against the Orthodox opponent were quick enough to be safe but still made an impact, breaking down Dolidze over time. Later, he complimented those kicks with full power inner thigh rips, leaving Dolidze looking a bit wobbly by the end of the fight. Generally, it’s the best Vettori has looked fighting on the outside or tying together his jab with kicks.

UFC 207: Carlos Junior v Vettori Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images


The importance of physicality cannot be overstated in wrestling. Vettori may not have a scholastic wrestling background, but as a strong Middleweight with a long history of MMA training, he’s a very solid wrestler in the cage.

Typically, there are two ways Vettori will gain top position: catching kicks or grinding along the fence. The first is self-explanatory: Vettori will read a kick coming and trap the leg, allowing him to run through an off-balance opponent.

Simple, but difficult to stop.

If Vettori is more actively pursuing the takedown, he likes to work along the fence. More specifically, Vettori likes to work from the upper body clinch, often starting on the single leg before moving up toward a body lock. If Vettori is unable to force his opponent down with just the body lock, he’ll look to hook a leg for the outside trip. The trip itself doesn’t usually end the takedown chain, but it convinces opponents to turn their backs and offer the back clinch.

From there, it’s pretty simple to drive an opponent down to the mat.

Against Holland, Vettori finished roughly a dozen double legs along the fence. He did so in numerous ways: lifting and slamming, pulling the hips towards him and off the fence, even cutting an angle with his head position at one point to circle Holland’s hips to the canvas. Thanks to his boxing, Vettori was repeatedly able to gain good double leg position along the fence and finish from here.

Vettori’s takedown defense has held up well throughout his UFC career, as he excels at pulling opponents off his legs and into the clinch. Even when taken down by Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker, Vettori was able to quickly scramble back to his feet, so getting controlled on bottom for long periods of time hasn’t been an issue since his 2016 loss to Antonio Carlos Junior.

UFC 219: Vettori v Akhmedov Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

A jiu-jitsu brown belt with nine victories via tapout, Vettori hunts for the neck.

The guillotine is the Italian’s go-to move. Very often, he attacks the front choke as his opponent goes to stand up. Vettori is quick to posture up and deliver punches from top position, which does create space for his opponent to attempt a stand up. Often, the neck is somewhat exposed as the hands push off the floor/opponent.

In his UFC debut, Vettori scored an arm-across guillotine. From the front head lock position, Vettori isolated the head-and-arm and brought it across his body, using his hip to prevent Alberto Uda from pulling his arm out. From this position, Vettori can twist into the squeeze, cutting off one side of his foe’s neck with his arm and the other with the trapped shoulder.

Against Karl Roberson, Vettori demonstrated some nice grappling. As the two scrambled on the mat, Vettori briefly landed in bottom position. Immediately, he swum underneath his foe from half guard and yanked him forward, landing in something of a deep half guard position. He didn’t stay there for long, using that position to drive up onto a takedown along the fence.

Once in top position, Vettori immediately postured up and dropped a flurry of punches. When Roberson turned to stand, he jumped on the back rather than the guillotine — which he had tried earlier — resulting in the submission win (GIF).

UFC Fight Night: Miranda v Vettori Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images


At 29 years of age, Vettori is significantly younger than both his opponent and the other members of the Middleweight elite. If he can continue to improve his technical game without falling off athletically in the next few years, he still stands a good chance at eventually finding his way to the belt.

Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 75 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 75: “Vettori vs. Cannonier” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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