How Israel Adesanya-Marvin Vettori will play out

Posted on

VSiN’s MMA expert sizes up Saturday’s main event of UFC 263 in Glendale, Ariz.

Israel Adesanya (-275) vs. Marvin Vettori (+210), middleweight (185 pounds) championship

This is a rematch of an April 2018 bout in which Adesanya, then in his second UFC fight, beat Vettori by split decision. That was a very competitive three-round fight, one in which Vettori began to successfully take Adesanya down and display some control late in that bout.

Vettori, ranked third in the division, has won five straight bouts leading into this championship tussle. His opponents, while worthy, are not to be mistaken for elite middleweight talent, however. While Vettori is a better version of himself today than he was then, I am not convinced that he’s improved or added any real offensive/defensive dimension to his game.

Vettori is unofficially nicknamed “Angry Marvin” appropriately as he brings an aggressive, bar-room-brawling stand-up style to his fights. His footwork and movement are choppy, forcing him to rely on his power and belligerent forward pressure as opposed to any fluidity of movement or defensive evasiveness.

Vettori’s wrestling and grappling seem to be the key to this fight. I cannot envision a five-round stand-up fight between these two in which Vettori would have a chance.

Israel Adesanya (left) stares down Marvin  Vettori during a recent press conference.
Israel Adesanya (left) stares down Marvin Vettori during a recent press conference.
Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Vettori must pressure Adesanya, press him backward and force him to expend energy so that dragging him to the floor is easier to accomplish. Vettori should, and likely will, mimic the Jan Blachowicz plan of wrestling control against Adesanya. From the ground, Vettori will try to rain damage on Izzy from top position.

Adesanya enters this fight off a March loss to Blachowicz in a battle for Blachowicz’s light heavyweight title. In my handicapping, this is an advantage for Adesanya. While Vettori is the most “Blachowicz-type” styled fighter in the middleweight division, he’s in no way as large, heavy or strong as Blachowicz was in that bout. Therefore, Vettori will offer little in pressure, size or physicality that Adesanya hasn’t already dealt with against Blachowicz.

Adesanya, the middleweight champ, has a 7-1 record since his loss to Vettori, and though he’s off that loss, his middleweight wins have come against the absolute elite of the division, then and now. Adesanya has refined his precision striking and deft movement with more power and the realization that he must address his takedown defense. I believe Izzy’s last bout against Blachowicz ends up being most helpful in preparing Adesanya for the style of fight he’ll face against Vettori.

If this fight stays standing, Adesanya will paint “Angry Marvin’s” face black and blue. If Vettori can manage to grind on Adesanya and force him to expend energy fighting off the wrestling pressure, then Vettori has a chance.

I handicap a class difference between these athletes and have a difficult time believing Vettori has anything other than a “Sunday punch” chance to earn this title.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *