Brash UFC Star Sees Himself as Israel Adesanya’s ‘Only Real Challenge’

Israel Adesanya

Getty Israel Adesanya

Although Israel Adesanya is 2-0 against Marvin Vettori, “The Italian Dream” sees himself as the “only real challenge” for the UFC middleweight champion.

“The Last Stylebender” is set for his fifth title defense as he is scheduled to headline UFC 276 on July 2 opposite of No. 2-ranked 185-pound combatant Jared Cannonier. The two will go to war at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

And regardless of the outcome, Vettori plans on beating both men at some point in his MMA career. First, he must get past ex-UFC middleweight king Robert Whittaker on September 3.

Vettori, who is ranked No. 3 in the division as per the official rankings, recently said he plans on showing off the “3.0” version of himself, and that he will “demolish” Whittaker en route to another title shot.

“It will happen no matter what,” Vettori said to MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn in a recent interview. “I’ll get my wins against Adesanya before I’m over with MMA unless he walks away before, but I feel like I’m the only real challenge to him, and every time I do fight him – he has the win in the last fight, but (I) came out unscathed, couldn’t really hurt me, not one single time. It was a lack of experience on my side, but yeah, for sure I want my win against him.”

“A lot of people say if Cannonier wins, then you get a shot because if Israel wins not many people want to see a third fight, but to be honest, if I go out and just demolish Whittaker then I feel like the hype train is gonna be hot again, and they’ll want to see it again, and that’s what I’m looking forward to do because like I said, it’s gonna be Vettori 3.0,” Vettori continued.

Vettori & Adesanya Have Fought Twice Inside the Octagon

Collectively, Adesanya and Vettori have spent eight rounds inside the Octagon together. They first competed in April 2018 at UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje and The Last Stylebender edged The Italian Dream on the scorecards, earning the win via split decision.

After the loss, Vettori went on a five-fight win streak to earn himself a shot at gold. He met Adesanya in the middle of the cage and once again, the fight went the distance.

However, Adesanya left no doubt in the judges’ minds this time around, taking the fight via unanimous decision at UFC 263 in June 2021.

Both Adesanya and The Italian Dream have competed once since then. The Last Stylebender defended his belt against Whittaker at UFC 271 in February and Vettori bested Paulo Costa during UFC Fight Night 196 in October.

Vettori Predicts Adesanya Will Defeat Cannonier on Saturday Night

Vettori shared his prediction for the UFC 276 main event with Bohn. And unsurprisingly, he’s picking Adesanya.

“Cannonier would just have to not buy into any bulls*** and just walk him down and land big shots, but Adesanya is game in that sense,” Vettori said. “He’s been in there with a lot of big punchers and if he finds a hole, it’ll be a hard day for Cannonier. Eventually I want to beat them both, so it’s OK, we’ll see. I think Adesanya will come out with the win, though.”

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