UFC Vegas 23 went pretty much to plan for ‘The Italian Dream’ as Marvin Vettori wrestled his way to a dominant decision win over Kevin Holland in the middleweight main event.
Vettori was due to fight Darren Till as he looked to break into the top five, but when the Scouse fighter broke his collarbone less than two weeks out in training it was ‘Trailblazer’ who stepped in on short notice to keep the bout alive.
Holland started the fight well, with fast hands and an aggressive striking approach, but once Vettori was able to get hold of him he used his physicality and technique to drag the fight to the ground and dominate.
It was an approach we saw just three weeks prior when Holland was last in the cage against Brunson, and the result was exactly the same as he was dominated for five rounds and lost every one of them.
Despite that though, it was an improved performance. Holland’s striking was fast and accurate and on the ground he showed far more ambition to get back to his feet than he did in the Brunson fight. Vettori just happened to be too good and there wasn’t enough time between the fights for him to work on his weaknesses between bouts.
He’ll come back in the future and be stronger off the back of these two defeats, but for Vettori all he sees in his future is a world title shot.
The victory made it five wins in a row for the 27-year-old and means he hasn’t tasted defeat since the split decision loss to current champion Israel Adesanya back in 2016. It’s a fight that most people agree he lost, but he believes he won and says that meeting with the champ has convinced him that he is the better fighter.
After the result, Vettori made it clear that he feels he deserves the next title shot and called Adesanya out for a bout in October.
“I want Adesanya next. October, I want to fight him. I think I deserve it. I have the longest win streak right now. I put on winning performances. Dominant performances. I want this title.”
His claims are certainly true but the state of the division is up in the air. Adesanya has beaten the top contenders already, including Vettori, and opted to go up to light heavyweight rather than fight Robert Whittaker once more recently.
Defeat to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 means Adesanya has to return to 185lbs to defend his throne and the options are limited. He had told Till that a win over Vettori would earn him a title shot, despite him currently being 1-1 in the middleweight division and losing his last fight.
But with Till not fighting and Vettori winning anyway, there is a very real claim that a rematch could be on the cards. With Whittaker fighting Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Vegas 24 next weekend, a third win in a row for ‘The Reaper’ would likely get him the title shot since he’s the number one contender in the rankings.
If that were to happen it could see Vettori paired up with Paulo Costa, who was originally supposed to be fighting Whittaker but withdrew after complications with COVID-19.
The champ will ultimately get the final say in who his opponent is going to be, but Vettori is adamant he deserves the chance to not only avenge his 2016 defeat but also become the middleweight champion of the world.