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In a rematch from three years ago, you must understand the “three years ago” is the key phrase. You can not sit back and say that fighter A has made all the improvements without saying that fighter B has done the same.

Three years ago, both fighters were extremely raw in their own right, and although it was a very close fight, the victor was Izzy, but ever so slightly. Whether you agree with the decision or not, that was the way the judges saw the fight.

Vettori is trying to even the series with much more at stake here. Make no mistake that if Izzy wins this fight, then that will be two in a row in which Vettori will probably not get another crack at UFC Gold for a while unless Izzy loses the strap soon after. However, if Vettori wins this fight then he will claim the strap, but a rubber match at 1-1 would be imminent.

Let us take a little deeper dive into both of their careers over the past three years and see where they match up to date.

Israel Adesanya

When you talk about cerebral, sharp thinking and crisp technical striking, it is almost impossible not to bring up Adesanya in the conversation. He is long, rangy and a visualist that sees things in a different gear than most strikers. He understands the intricate nuances, angles, combinations and traps that will ultimately either make a fighter bite, or his hands are just too sharp on the point of attack that he finds the mark before you can avoid it.

Izzy is a masterclass marksman with dynamic patterns, blistering hand speed and a cerebral ability to think ahead of the game board. With a 20-1 record, he has 15 KOs and five decision wins. We saw his potential three years ago, and we watched him transform into one of the very elite in combat sports.

After his quest for two belts, he hiked up to light heavy and faced current 205-champion Jan Blachowicz. Adesanya would lose a decision in which other fighters were given the first taste of how to defeat him. It was a mixture of bullying him, successfully making him defend two levels and make him fight in close, eliminating his reach advantage. The more space you give him to work, the more he will sit you at a range that is palatable to him.

With all that said, it is also hard to ignore the fact that 205 is his only loss after dominating the middleweight division. Just because you are a great fighter, doesn’t mean that you can fight in all classes. A weight class selection can be the difference between blinding hand speed and just hand speed or the difference in conditioning and how long you can actually keep a pace. Most importantly, the change in power is significant. I don’t think that loss to Jan was a product of a primed Izzy. I think middleweight is the division that he needs to stay in. So here he is.

Marvin Vettori

It’s hard for me not to cheer and like this guy. Hey, I’m Italian after all.

With all that put aside. There is something about this kid Marvin Vettori. He has a different kind of hunger. You can just see it when he talks, when he fights and how he reacts to his outcomes. Vettori is a very charged up and emotional fighter. He has a passion for fighting and being the best, and that is and always will be dangerous.

Some of the greatest fighters that may have lacked smoothness and skill, made up for it with that certain fire to win. Joe Frazier, Roberto Duran and Jake LaMotta were all fighters that may have not been the most athletic and smooth, but they would walk through fire to get to you, no matter how high the flame. That is Marvin Vettori.

With a great chin, good top submission game, heavy hands and much improved conditioning, Vettori relies on his tenacity to tie it all together. With a record of 17-4, the Kings MMA fighter has seven submissions and surprisingly only two KOs.

Vettori knows where he needs to take this fight. He understands that 5 rounds on the feet will not be favoring him. Taking it to the ground and making it a dirty dragged out street fight is what will be his best ally. The issue is him being able to find the hips as he is eating shots being fired.

How It Shakes Out

Vettori will come very aggressive out of the gate. I expect him to feel out Izzy on the feet until he can read his hips a bit. Once he finds the shot, this may be the most important moment for both men. If Vettori can take Izzy down and actually secure him there, the confidence will be on another level for the Italian.

However, if Izzy stuffs the attempt and gets back in space, then you are giving him every opportunity to start letting his hands fly like the Fourth of July. I think Vetorri is the one moving forward early with less hesitation. Stylebender will always use an outreached arm to find his range and calculate the perfect spacing he needs. He will feel you out, see what you are giving him as he is measuring you.

Vetorri won’t give him that much time to do so, so the pace will probably be pushed a little harder and faster than Izzy likes early on. Eventually the flow will start coming into play and Adesanya will start getting off on Vettori. This will frustrate Vettori and cause him to start getting impatient, emotional and even a little sloppy in spots.

Vettori needs to understand that he can’t fight off emotions, and he will need to control that the best way he can. Certain fighters can fight that way with, but against Adesanya, this won’t work. He will look for every opening to capitalize on. I feel this will be a highly contested fight, and I am expecting Vetorri to put him in some very tough spots that Izzy will need to fight out of, but I find it hard to believe that he can keep this upright for the majority of the fight.

Adesanya is a late starter and tends to start really catching his groove late, and that is where Vettori needs to be careful. If Vetorri wins the first two rounds, then Izzy could be drawing a fine line in the sand for himself. At the end of the day, I do think Izzy retains his title and takes this one in a very fun and competitive fight.

The Pick: Adesanya


  • Adesanya: $9300
  • 100+ Points: 5 of 10
  • Current Market Value: 5 of 10
  • Hedge: 4

In a fight where Izzy is hitting 50% of current market value and carrying a lot of unfinished business, the chance of him hitting the mark is very good in a win over the span of 25 minutes. I am picking him here for the mere fact that his one skill is not only better than Vetorri, but some of the slickest and most accurate in the business. Vetorri is very hittable, and even though Vetorri improved a lot over three years, what makes you think Adesanya didn’t?

  • Vettori: $6900
  • 100+ Points: 4 of 10
  • Current Market Value: 6 of 10
  • Hedge: 3

There is no doubt that Vettori is extremely live here, and the price tag is insulting to him to be honest. He has a very good chance to walk away with the win here, but he can’t just think that he is going to be able to drag Adesanya to the ground and wrestle him for 25 minutes. The thing with Izzy is that when he sees mistakes or holes, he is intelligent enough to patch them up the best way he can. He knows what the game plan is, and if you don’t think that he worked on staying up right, you are mistaken. However, Vettori is a guy that has a will to win with very good durability, and that will most likely keep him in this fight. I am picking Izzy here, but only a fool would fade such a live dog here at this punt price.