UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will fight Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 despite many believing Robert Whittaker is next in line for a shot at the title.
On June 12, the African-born champion seeks to accomplish a third title defense. The 31-year old is rebounding from his first professional loss to the reigning light heavyweight king Jan Blachowicz. Most were under the impression that if the fight remained on the feet that the City Kickboxing star would have the advantage, but that turned out to be false. Following an unsuccessful attempt at capturing a second title, Adesanya is eager to erase the recent memory and get back in the win column.
The middleweight champion gave his thoughts about his opponent who he previously beat by a close split-decision many moons ago. While Adesanya is open to the idea of fighting Whittaker again, he would cast his line, and ultimately it was Vettori who was caught first.
“I wanted to fight Rob after I’d seen him with Kelvin,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “Marvin was like, ‘I want to go in October.’ Rob was like, ‘I want to go in September.’ I’m like, ‘Look, I’m going in June. Whoever wants it, step up,’ and yeah, the Italian stepped up, so kudos to him.”
Seemingly the middleweight champion is open to either rematch but with time restraints Vettori fits best at the moment. Undoubtedly, Adesanya is looking to get some reps inside the cage after his last outing didn’t go his way. Since the welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Vettori train together, “Stylebender” asserts that the Italian is already used to getting beat on by a champion he has fought or trained with before.
“Kamaru (Usman) just gave him a little taste of what it’s like when you already know the person,” Adesanya said. “You know you have their number, and he’s still holding onto that f*cking single leg, like he’s holding onto that loss. So proud of that loss. He’s holding onto that loss better than his best wins, so I’m in his head, rent-free, camping.”
In addition to Adesanya saying that Usman has the Italian’s number in training, the champion emphasized the fact that Vettori is still not over the loss from their first fight. Slated as the first rematch of his career, it will be interesting to see how the champ makes adjustments for Vettori. With the Italian on a blistering five-fight win streak, if Adesanya prevails, the middleweight champion will be well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best to ever grace the octagon.
Who is your early pick in this middleweight battle between Adesanya and Vettori? Let us know at MMANews your prediction below!