UFC on FOX 29 saw a clash between two of the most exciting up-and-comers in the middleweight division when kickboxing sensation Israel Adesanya took on Italian submission specialist Marvin Vettori.
In the lead up to the fight, Adesanya insisted that he had decided he wanted to fight Vettori long before the UFC ever offered the matchup to him.
“The weird thing is so far, my two UFC opponents, I’ve kinda picked them before they already got presented to me,” Adesanya said. “Because Rob (Wilkinson), he was an AFC champion in Australia, and then when I got that belt, he started talking sh*t about little boys fighting for his old toys. Then at [UFC] 219 in Vegas, the last show of last year, I was in the MGM walking through, and I happened to see Marvin and his crew walking through as well. Out of respect, I always just, you know, [say] ‘Hey, good fight.’ And he just kinda gave me this weird look, and I just didn’t like the energy.
“I was like, ‘What the f*ck?’ Then I talked to [my coach], ‘I want to fight that guy.’ He looks at me, that’s my coach, he’s like, ‘Huh.’ I was like, ‘No, I want to fight him.’ Then when it came down to it, there was the option right there.”
The bout promised to be an interesting contrast in styles, with Adesanya kickboxing and Vettori’s wrestling background but the New Zealander said that he thought Vettori’s ego would cause him to stand and bang…for a while.
“I know his ego. He’ll want to try and bang with me,” Adesanya said. “But then, I’ll give it one minute. Within one minute, he’ll start shooting – guaranteed.”
There was no shortage of animosity between the young fighters in the build-up to this one but the Italian said that he was going to shut Adesanya’s mouth when the cage door shut.
“He’s a little Chihuahua and I’m the bulldog, man,” Vettori told MMA Fighting on Thursday at UFC on FOX 29 media day. “So I’m just going to eat him.”
Adesanya (12-0, 12 KO’d before this fight) burst onto the scene with a dominant UFC debut, picking apart Aussie wrestler Rob Wilkinson to earn himself a 2nd round TKO. Vettori insisted that that wouldn’t be the case with him.
“The guy stepped in there already beaten,” Vettori said. “He thought he couldn’t stand with Israel so he gassed himself trying to take him down. Israel kinda defended the takedown, and the guy, by the end of the first round he was done with his cardio and Israel just picked him apart. But it’s not going to happen with an experienced fighter and with a guy like me.
The bookies installed Adesanya as the favourite at $1.40 while Vettori was paying $2.95 to get the job done.
On fight night, Adesanya did prove why he was the favorite by defeating Marvin Vettori via split decision, his first victory that went to the scorecards. “The Last Stylebender” put on a striking clinic like he usually does, but was unable to finish this time around. He showed a bit of vulnerability in the third round when the fight went to the mat, but Vettori was unable to capitalize on it as well.
Check out a highlight below.