Adesanya puts on clinic vs. Vettori to retain UFC middleweight belt
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is back on track after suffering his first career loss in a light heavyweight title bout earlier this year.
Adesanya defeated Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) in the UFC 263 main event to retain his 185-pound title Saturday night at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
"Not at all," Adesanya said in his postfight interview when asked if he was surprised by anything that happened in the fight. "Like I said, even at the press conference when (Vettori) stood up, I sat down because I didn't feel any threat."
Adesanya picked apart Vettori on the feet for 25 minutes, showing that he had more tools in the striking department than the challenger. He landed a significant amount of damaging leg kicks and elbows in the clinch.
Vettori secured a few takedowns but was unable to do much with the dominant positions. Adesanya returned to his feet quickly each time he was dumped on the ground.
The fight was more dominant in favor of Adesanya in the fourth and fifth rounds, with Vettori struggling to land any clean shots.
Afterward, Adesanya expressed interest in a rematch with former champion Robert Whittaker - but he wants it on his home turf. Adesanya, who lives in New Zealand, knocked out Whittaker to win the middleweight belt in 2019 in Whittaker's home country of Australia.
"I don't know what the f--- is going to happen with this whole COVID shit, but we need to run that back in Auckland," Adesanya said. "We need to run that back in my territory this time. I'll tell you when it is. You don't get to decide. I get to decide. Because why? I'm the motherf------ king, b----."
Whittaker, who's riding a three-fight winning streak, offered a response on social media:
With the victory, Adesanya defended his middleweight title for the third time and bounced back from a unanimous decision loss to 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 in March.
"The Last Stylebender" improved his UFC record to 10-1, which means he has won 10 straight fights in the middleweight division. Since capturing the title against Whittaker, Adesanya has retained against Yoel Romero, Paulo Costa, and now Vettori.
Adesanya and Vettori first met in April 2018, before either were top contenders in the division. Adesanya won the three-round bout by split decision.
Vettori, who was ranked No. 3 in the division heading into his first UFC title shot, saw his five-fight winning streak come to an end. This was his first defeat since 2018.