After daring to be great and coming up short against light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz, it was time for Israel Adesanya to return to middleweight. Whilst he had been away from his division, Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker had built themselves title claims that the champion would need to deal with. When Vettori was willing to fight sooner, the Italian got the shot at the undisputed middleweight king.
After suffering a defeat for the first time in his professional career, there were some people throwing questions at Adesanya. It’s no secret that the best bet on beating Israel is to take him down and Blachowicz was able to do this in the later rounds to win a unanimous decision. With Marvin Vettori’s claims that he won the first fight with Adesanya, it was time for ‘The Last Stylebender’ to remind everyone who the champ is and that’s exactly what he did at UFC 263.
Though Robert Whittaker has a far more impressive resume since he lost to Adesanya, Vettori was deserving of a shot. Since his loss to Adesanya he had won five in a row and due to one judge scoring the bout with Adesanya for him, he could sell the narrative that their fight was a split decision and was therefore close. In reality, their first fight wasn’t that close. Israel controlled the range for the opening two rounds and left Vettori in no mans land chasing shadows. Though ‘The Italian Dream’ did land a takedown in the third round, he wasn’t effective in the grappling exchanges once he got Adesanya down.
Their rematch played out very similarly though this time around, Adesanya was able to get back to his feet whenever Vettori did take him down. The fight showed Israel putting the division on notice and reminding everyone just how good he is, outclassing Vettori in a one-sided fight. Calling for a rematch with Robert Whittaker after the fight, Israel could soon find himself in a tough situation where there are no new challenges at middleweight. After failing to claim the light heavyweight title, this domination of the middleweight division is needed before Adesanya can look to move up again.
In the words of Israel Adesanya himself: “Y’all must have forgot.”