MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 263, a five-round UFC middleweight title bout between champion Israel Adesanya and challenger Marvin Vettori. The event takes place on Saturday, June 12 at Gila River Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Israel Adesanya (-255)
Adesanya (20-1) is the UFC middleweight champion. The 31-year-old New Zealander is 9-1 overall in the UFC, with all nine of his wins coming at middleweight and his lone loss coming in his last fight, a failed bid to become the UFC light heavyweight champion when he lost to Jan Blachowicz. Prior to that, Adesanya had defeated everyone in his path, including Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, Derek Brunson, Yoel Romero, and even Vettori. These two first met back in April 2018 and Adesanya won a split decision in a back-and-forth fight. Since that first fight, both men have improved their games, with Adesanya becoming a champion and Vettori becoming a top contender. With some of the best striking skills that we have ever seen in the UFC, Adesanya is a big favorite here to defend his title. The question is, can he stop the takedown? That’s the key to him winning or losing this fight.
Marvin Vettori (+215)
Vettori (17-3-1) is the No. 3 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 27-year-old Italian is 7-2-1 overall in the UFC and he is currently riding a five-fight win streak with notable wins over Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland. Vettori has had the most success in the Octagon with his wrestling skills as he is able to get the majority of his opponents to the mat and control them there. On the feet, he is also improving his striking attack and he has shown a good chin throughout his career, as well. In the first fight with Adesanya, Vettori had success in the third round with his wrestling. He will need his wrestling to be on point for the full five rounds this time around if he wants to take home the UFC middleweight title. If he is able to get this fight to the floor, we might have a new champion at 185lbs.
Fight Breakdown: I view this as a very competitive fight between two of the best middleweights in the sport. If the fight stays on the feet, you obviously have to favor Adesanya to get the win due to his advantage in striking technique and power. However, this is an MMA fight, and Vettori appears to be the more well-rounded fighter. His wrestling advantage in this fight is going to be the key to whether or not he wins the UFC middleweight title. If Vettori is able to consistently get takedowns and lay on top and control Adesanya, then he will win this fight. While I expect Adesanya to show off solid takedown defense in this fight, I do think Vettori is going to be able to get him to the ground at some point. I’m expecting a very competitive fight, but the odds are saying this should be an easy night for Adesanya. I’m not so sure. I think this one is dog-or-pass, and I’ll take Vettori by decision.
Prediction: Marvin Vettori