Israel Adesanya was tasked with facing Marvin Vettori for the second time in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, courtesy of the UFC 263 pay-per-view (PPV) main event last Sat. night (June 12, 2021) inside Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, which just so happened to be the same location where “The Last Stylebender” narrowly squeaked past “The Italian Dream” for a split-decision win at UFC on FOX 29 back in early 2018.
Adesanya would once again call on the cageside judges, this time Derek Cleary, Sal D’Amato, and Chris Flores, but it would not be nearly as close as their first go-round. The champion retained his 185-pound title by capturing every round 10-9 for a total of 50-45. To his credit, Vettori was game throughout the fight and landed a couple of key takedowns, but failed to do anything with them.
With Vettori out of the picture, Adesanya will now turn his attention to former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. “The Reaper” was stopped by “The Last Stylebender” in their UFC 243 headliner back in Oct. 2019, but battled his way back into the championship conversation by capturing three straight wins over Top 10 competition.
Sounds like Adesanya welcomes the rematch.
“Well you know the Aussie, my arch nemesis, that other cunt ... what’s his name, Whittaker,” Adesanya told Joe Rogan after the fight. “I knocked him out twice last time. I don’t know what the fuck is gonna happen with this whole COVID shit but we need to run that back in Auckland. We need to run that back in my territory this time. You don’t get to decide, I get to decide. Why? I’m the motherfucking king, bitch.”
Whittaker kept his reply short and sweet on Twitter: “Rest up, see you soon.”
The victory over Vettori helped resurrect some of Adesanya’s hype, which took a hit when “The Last Stylebender” tried — and failed — to capture the light heavyweight title earlier this year. Reigning 205-pound kingpin Jan Blachowicz was simply too big and too strong for the lanky New Zealander, who struggled to suppress the Pole’s takedowns.
Back at middleweight, Adesanya looked as sharp as ever.
As for the Whittaker rematch, expect to see that showdown by the end of the year.