The UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) retained his title Saturday when he defeated his two-time rival Marvin Vettori (17-3-1 MMA, 7-2-1 UFC) via unanimous decision.
The middleweight title bout was the UFC 263 main event at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz.
At UFC on FOX 29 in April 2018, Adesanya defeated Vettori via split decision. The fight was Adesanya’s second in the promotion and Vettori’s fifth. Since their first meeting, the two exchanged verbal jabs in interviews and written insults on social media, which all led up to their rematch Saturday.
The fight was largely dominant in Adesanya’s favor. The champion utilized his leg kicks as a major debilitating weapon as Vettori plodded forward. Although Vettori did secure multiple takedowns in the fight, they were few and far between and often were reversed by Adesanya.
Vettori’s best moment came in Round 3 when he got Adesanya’s back and worked for a rear-naked choke. However, the struggle was brief and Adesanya wiggled his way out to land on top.
When the final bell rang and the judges’ decision was read, Vettori looked stunned. He exchanged calm words with Adesanya as the two argued about whether or not the decision was accurate.
After the fight, Adesanya dedicated the win to his late friend and City Kickboxing training partner Fau Vake, who was brutally beaten and later died in May. He then turned his attention to his next potential challenge and called for a rematch against Robert Whittaker, the man he took the title from in 2019.
Adesanya, 31, returns to the win column after an unsuccessful crack at attaining double champ status. At UFC 259 in March, Adesanya lost a unanimous decision in a title challenge against light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. The loss was the first of his career.
Returning to middleweight, Adesanya successfully defended his title for the third time. His first two defenses came against Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero.
As for Vettori, the loss snaps a five-fight winning streak. Prior to Saturday, Vettori’s last loss came in his first fight against Adesanya. All of Vettori’s career losses have come by decision.