Preview and prediction for Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori at UFC 263.
A UFC 263 card deeply riched in talent will be topped by Israel Adesanya journeying back down to middleweight, looking to rebound from his first MMA loss and fend off a familiar foe in Marvin Vettori, who seeks vengeance and the UFC middleweight championship.
The two first clashed just over three years ago in the very same arena — the Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ — with Adesanya picking up a victory, though Vettori won one of the judges’ scorecards.
Since that time, of course, Adesanya went on to win another seven straight, defeating Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight title at UFC 236 and knocking out Robert Whittaker to become undisputed champion at UFC 243.
After successful title defenses against Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa, Adesanya moved up to light heavyweight to challenge champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. Adesanya suffered his first defeat in a unanimous decision loss.
Since his loss to Adesanya, Vettori has won five straight, topped by a unanimous decision over Jack Hermansson in December and a decision over Kevin Holland at UFC Vegas 23 in April.
Who will win at UFC 263: Israel Adesanya or Marvin Vettori?
Per the Tale of the Tape, Adesanya will enter this fight with a four-inch height edge and a big six-inch reach advantage. Looking at FightMetrics, Vettori slightly edges out Adesanya in strikes landed per minute, but Adesanya is the more accurate lander. The reverse can be said for their striking defensive numbers. Adesanya isn’t a takedown artist, of course, but Vettori is. Vettori averages just over two takedowns per 15 minutes, but Adesanya holds an 82 percent takedown defense.
In their first meeting, Adesanya was clearly the better fighter, stuffing nearly all of Vettori’s takedown attempts, being the better striker and answering when Vettori tried to bring the pressure.
There’s little reason to think Vettori won the first fight. He had his moments, landing his fair share of early shots, and landing the takedown and staying in control for most of the third. But Adesanya outstruck him, and Vettori didn’t get anything going when he did having the grappling edge.
Vettori may have gotten better since the loss to Adesanya, but his best wins are Hermansson and Holland. But look at the names Adesanya has beaten. Whittaker is the best middleweight in the UFC, maybe even the world, after Adesanya. Gastelum troubled him but Adesanya got through him for his first piece of (interim) gold. Romero and Costa, while not putting on the best of performances, are beasts who are insane for competing at 185. And Adesanya retained against both of them.
And as mentioned on the most recent Man in the Cage podcast with Jeff Brantley (guest starring this writer), every time Adesanya has an iffy performance, he seems to follow it up with an incredible one. And for Adesanya to do a lot of winning and get praise even in his iffy shows, that says something about a talent like him.
Adesanya may have lost to Blachowicz in his last fight, but that was at 205, and Blachowicz is on a hot tear himself. At 185, however, Adesanya is still the king. And until we see him slow down or come to a crashing halt, it’s hard to pick against him.
In fact, don’t be surprised if he has another spectacular performance and gets the job done this time, as tough as Vettori may seem.
Prediction: Adesanya via second-round KO/TKO