UFC middleweight contender Marvin Vettori isn’t keen on signing on as a backup fighter for the anticipated UFC 271 main event between 185-pound king Israel Adesanya and former champion Robert Whittaker.
Vettori was last in action at UFC Vegas 41 in October. Having fallen short of capturing gold against “The Last Stylebender” at UFC 263, the Italian rebounded in style against fellow former title challenger Paulo Costa. In the build-up to the headlining clash, the 28-year-old was praised for his attitude and toughness after his Brazilian counterpart couldn’t make weight.
Having entered fight week over 20 pounds north of the middleweight limit, the bout was changed to a 195-pound catchweight, before being bumped up yet again, this time to light heavyweight. Despite facing one of the UFC’s top powerhouses at a much higher weight than he’s used to, Vettori shined inside the Apex.
Throughout a five-round war, “The Italian Dream” pushed the pace, landed some hard shots at an impressive volume, and ate the biggest and best “Borrachinha” had to offer. After going the 25-minute distance, Vettori was awarded a well-deserved unanimous decision victory.
Vettori Doesn’t Want To Waste A Camp
After leaping straight back into title contention, many have wondered whether Vettori will be asked to stand in as the backup fighter for the expected championship rematch between Adesanya and Whittaker, which is expected to take place at UFC 271 in February 2022.
Despite UFC President Dana White suggesting it would make sense, the #2-ranked contender doesn’t share the same level of enthusiasm for the idea. Speaking during an appearance on the Real Quick With Mike Swick Podcast, Vettori said that whilst the money would be good, he wants his second title shot to be on his own terms.
“No, it’s not confirmed… but, yeah man, I want to fight it on my terms, for the next time that I fight Adesanya. It goes both ways, when I’m ready, I wanna fight. So, I mean, I know it’s good money but like, I don’t know if I can be, I don’t know if I can do that in a sense.”
Further discussing why the backup slot doesn’t appeal to him, Vettori suggested he wouldn’t want to waste weeks of preparation on the event if he’s likely not going to be needed. In the Italian’s mind, he’s earned the right to decide when he next competes for the gold, and to do so with a full camp.
“I hate giving away a whole preparation, you know. A lot of people would do it for money, but for me… I’m always open to business and all that, but money is not the first goal when I got into the sport. I wanna be champion. I mean, I don’t know. When they will ask me I’ll give a real answer. But I feel like I earned, eventually, the right to fight it (championship fight) on my terms. ‘Cos even the last time, and I’m not saying I wasn’t ready, I was 100% ready, but I basically prepared for the fight in seven weeks and a half. I fought Holland. Eight weeks after the day I fought Holland, I fought Adesanya. This time I want a whole camp and I think I earned that.”
Despite not being targeted for Seattle or Canada as initially reported, the UFC 271 pay-per-view is still set to be headlined by Adesanya and Whittaker’s blockbuster rematch. The pair first collided at UFC 243 in 2019. Bringing an end to the New Zealand-born Australian’s reign, Adesanya secured a second-round knockout in Melbourne.
Having looked back to his best in decision victories over Darren Till, Jared Cannonier, and Kelvin Gastelum, “The Reaper” has earned his chance at redemption. He’ll look to become the first blemish on Adesanya’s perfect middleweight record next year.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 271, Israel Adesanya or Robert Whittaker?