Marvin Vettori fought Israel Adesanya before “The Last Stylebender” was truly a superstar, and the Italian middleweight almost came away with a victory on the scorecards.
The 27-year-old Kings MMA product dropped a split decision to Adesanya at UFC on Fox 29 in April 2018 in what was the current middleweight champion’s second Octagon appearance. Since then the City Kickboxing star has racked up seven more victories within the Las Vegas-based promotion — including a pair of title defenses — and now has enough clout to be on the verge of pursuing two-division dominance.
Meanwhile, Vettori appears to be just now coming into his own at 185 pounds following an impressive five-round verdict over Jack Hermansson in the UFC on ESPN 29 headliner at the UFC Apex on Saturday night. “The Italian Dream” has won four straight fights and is gradually climbing toward the top of the division. Vettori remembers Adesanya’s recent dismissive comments toward him, and now he believes his on the verge of making the Nigerian-born Kiwi eat his words.
“Israel is full of s—t,” Vettori said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “He was like, ‘Oh I don’t think I will ever see Marvin again, he will never make it to the title.’ Well guess what motherf—-er? I’m here.
“He thinks he has it all figured out. He’s got nothing figured out. I know his true colors. I met him a few times. I fought him. I know his true colors. I want that fight.”
Vettori issued a callout to Paulo Costa in the immediate aftermath of his latest victory, but he had reconsidered that request by the time he made it to the podium to address the media. Costa is coming off a second-round TKO defeat to Adesanya in a title bout at UFC 253 in September. When Vettori surveys the rest of the middleweight division, he doesn’t see any fights that make more sense than a title shot and rematch against Adesanya.
“To be honest with you, before I called out ‘Borrachinha,’, but f—k ‘Borrachinha,’ he just came out of a crazy loss,” Vettori said. “Why would I even fight him? I want to go straight to the title. I’ll be really honest. I like the fight, but I feel Top 5 there’s no opposition. There’s no real opposition.
“[Jared] Cannonier just lost. Darren Till, I don’t know, I don’t even think he’s Top 5. ‘Borrachinha’ just lost brutally and who else is there? Jack was No. 4. [Robert] Whittaker wants to just enjoy Christmas with his kids, which I don’t blame him, but it doesn’t seem like he really wants to fight for the title.”
Although UFC president Dana White generally isn’t in the business of matchmaking immediately following an event, he did seem to like the sounds of a potential Vettori-Costa booking.
“I love that fight,” White said. “Love it. We’ll see, but I love that fight.”
Vettori’s dream of jumping straight into a middleweight title shot could include obstacles outside of the division. White has said that Adesanya will next face light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz for the 205-pound belt at an as yet to be determined event in 2021. Vettori points to Brazilian veteran Glover Teixeira, who is currently on a five-fight winning streak at light heavyweight, as a far more deserving contender than Adesanya.
“Glover Teixeira deserves that fight,” Vettori said. “[Adesanya] shouldn’t fight for the light heavyweight title. I think Glover Teixeira’s going to get that fight.”