UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya cruised to victory over Marvin Vettori as he retained his undisputed 185-pound title in the main event of UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona.
The pair had previously met, when Adesanya claimed a split-decision victory over Vettori in April 2018 in the Nigerian-born Kiwi’s second UFC bout. But in Saturday night’s rematch Adesanya, 31, showed his class with a virtuoso performance as he picked apart the Italian over the full five-round championship duration at the Gila River Arena. Vettori started the bout in aggressive fashion and landed an early takedown, but Adesanya soon settled into his work and dominated the striking exchanges, using repeated kicks to Vettori’s lead leg to punish the challenger from range. Adesanya’s control of the bout caused plenty of consternation in Vettori’s corner between rounds, as coach Rafael Cordeiro implored his man to be more aggressive in his pursuit of the takedown. But Vettori simply had no answer for the champion, who looked in complete control as he cruised to a shutout decision victory with all three judges scoring the bout 50-45 in Adesanya’s favour. After the result was officially announced, Adesanya dedicated his victory to his teammate Fau Vake, a promising up-and-coming fighter who died in May from injuries sustained in an alleged attack in Auckland, New Zealand. “I just want to say Fau Vake, Fau Vake, Fau Vake, I love you, man… This fight I dedicate to you, Fau,” he said. Adesanya then said he wanted his next title defence to come against Australia’s former champion Robert Whittaker, but on the condition that the fight takes place in Adesanya’s hometown of Auckland after Adesanya dethroned Whittaker in Melbourne in their first meeting at UFC 243. “We need to run that back in my territory this time,” he said.