Israel Adesanya will look to successfully defend the UFC middleweight title for the third time when he takes on #3 ranked contender Marvin Vettori in the main event at UFC 263.
Adesanya fell short in his last outing. In his bid to become a two-division champion, he dropped a unanimous decision to UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
Apart from this lone defeat, the closest Israel Adesanya has gone to losing was when he picked up a razor-thin split-decision victory against Marvin Vettori in his second UFC outing.
At UFC 263, Vettori will look to even the score while simultaneously putting an end to Adensanya's undefeated reign at middleweight.
Marvin Vettori is riding an impressive five-fight win streak that includes lopsided wins over Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland in his last two outings. The Italian Dream has not tasted defeat since his loss to Israel Adensanya in 2018.
Ahead of their upcoming match, let's take a look at five reasons why Israel Adesanya will be able to maintain his unbeaten record at middleweight.
#5 Israel Adesanya's solid takedown defense
Israel Adesanya currently sports one of the best takedown defense rates in the UFC. With 82% takedown defense, Adesanya has time and again proved his wrestling is not to be taken lightly.
Adesanya's grappling was put to the test for the first time against Derek Brunson at UFC 230. While Brunson very recently dominated surging contender Kevin Holland with his wrestling, he looked extremely sloppy against Israel Adesanya with nine unsuccessful attempts.
Marvin Vettori also recently dominated Kevin Holland with a UFC middleweight record of 11 successfully landed takedowns. However, it is very likely that his takedown attempts against the Last Stylebender will be thwarted with relative ease.
#4 Israel Adesanya's kicking prowess
Hailing from a kickboxing background, Israel Adesanya comes equipped with a versatile kicking arsenal. The former Glory middleweight champion and King of the Ring double champion has various tricks up his sleeve ranging from devastating low kicks to question mark kicks with knockout power.
We are familiar with the damage that Adesanya is capable of inflicting with his leg kicks from his bouts against Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero. Israel Adesanya uses these to keep his opponents at range while setting them up for a question mark kick or a gut wrenching kick to the mid section.
#3 Israel Adesanya has the reach advantage against Marvin Vettori
At 6' 4" Israel Adesanya stands 4 inches taller than Marvin Vettori which translates into a 6 inch reach advantage inside the Octagon. With an 80 inch reach, Adesanya rarely has any comparison amongst competing athletes barring the likes of Jon Jones and Stefan Strufe.
For Marvin Vettori, the effects of having a shorter reach can be devastating, as we have seen in Izzy's bout against Paulo Costa. Israel Adesanya is capable of neutralizing all offense with a stifling jab while never entering his opponents' hitting range. Adesanya is also likely to switch stances to set up a counter, using his jabbing hand for a power shot in the process.
#2 Israel Adesanya's formidable counter striking
Preliminary ringcraft refers to the initial steps taken by a fighter to prevent themselves from being put against the barrier. This is something Israel Adesanya excels at and is also the key to his counter striking.
The most important tenet of preliminary ringcraft is to never retreat in a straight line. Adesanya’s angled retreat keeps him from backing onto the cage. The angle makes it significantly harder for a fighter pressuring him to land strikes.
Meanwhile, it allows Adesanya the opportunity to pivot into check hooks or hit back with sniper-like straight right hands.
#1 Israel Adesanya has experience headlining pay-per-views against world class opponents
Israel Adesanya has headlined six UFC pay-per-views, four of which have gone the distance. His last outing against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 sold 600,000 pay-per-views inside the United States and 200,000 abroad, making it the highest selling pay-per-view of his career.
'The Last Stylebender' is no stranger to high pressure main events since he fought the legendary Anderson Silva at UFC 234 in his first headliner. Since then, Israel Adesanya has stood his ground against high-profile opponents like Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa.
While Marvin Vettori has headlined his last two UFC Fight Nights, he is yet to feature in a UFC pay-per-view main event. Vettori faced arguably his most high-profile opponent in Kevin Holland, who was still a rising contender.