Israel Adesanya successfully retained his UFC middleweight title via unanimous decision against Marvin Vettori in the main event of UFC 263 on Saturday, June 12, 2021. After five rounds of action, all three judges scored the contest 50-45 in favor of 'The Last Stylebender.'
In a rematch of their split decision bout in 2018, Israel Adesanya outclassed Marvin Vettori to put an end to the rivalry. The champion dominated the striking exchanges while successfully defending against the challenger's wrestling-based offense.
Israel Adesanya took the fight to Marvin Vettori from the jump as he chopped away at his opponent's legs with low kicks. The 31-year-old's strategy paid off as his leg kicks took the explosiveness out of the challenger's takedown attempts.
The fighter from Auckland, New Zealand, also showcased tremendous improvements in his ground game. While Marvin Vettori completed multiple takedowns, he could not inflict significant damage on Israel Adesanya, who often reversed the position.
'The Italian Dream' almost pulled off a comeback win when he got dangerously close to catching Israel Adesanya in a rear-naked choke in the third round. But the reigning 185lbs king proved too slick as he was able to slip away from the submission attempt.
With the successful title defense, Israel Adesanya returned to the win column after suffering the first loss of his pro-MMA career against UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259.
On the flipside, Marvin Vettori had his five-fight winning streak snapped. His most recent loss before UFC 263 also came against Israel Adesanya in 2018.
What's next for Israel Adesanya?
It appears top-ranked middleweight Robert Whittaker will finally have his rematch against the UFC middleweight champ soon. During the post-fight interview, Israel Adesanya acknowledged that running it back with 'Bobby Knuckles' is the next logical fight.
There's a caveat, though. Israel Adesanya demanded that the second fight between him and Whittaker take place in his hometown of Auckland, New Zealand.
"I don't know what will happen with all this COVID s**t, but if he wants to run that back, we will do it in Auckland - my territory. Do you know why? Because I'm the mother f***ing king."
Adesanya became the undisputed UFC middleweight champion when he knocked Whittaker out in the main event of UFC 243 in 2019.