Marvin Vettori’s name should ring a bell for more than a few Ultimate Fighting Championship fans by now. “The Italian Dream” made his promotional debut at UFC 202 in August 2016 and submitted Alberto Emiliano Pereira with a first-round guillotine choke. A decision loss to Antonio Carlos Jr. and a decision win over Vitor Miranda followed before Vettori ran into Omari Akhmedov. Their UFC 219 encounter resulted in a draw, and the Italian was not happy about it.
“I could easily have won that fight,” Vettori told Sherdog.com. “I went to war and gave him the opportunity to get a draw. My skills are on another level. If you watch the first minute and 40 seconds, I don’t take a shot and he’s clearly frustrated. At one point, he tried a wild hook and missed, and I hit him with a knee straight in the face.”
The 24-year-old Kings MMA representative can point to where he went wrong.
“I got carried away and I stayed right in front of him to exchange,” Vettori said. “I ate everything there was to eat. I took risks and it came out in sort of a war, but I did not prove my worth.”
Vettori does not see his three-round battle with Akhmedov as a true test of his abilities. There was plenty of blame to go around afterward.
“I should have been more of a bullfighter,” Vettori said. “I should not have stood there and struck with him. I should have stuck with my striking, which is more technical and cleaner. I was glad he was dead at the end of the third round, physically and mentally, but I would have preferred to have won that bout a smarter way. I also would have wanted my corner to give me better instructions and remind me to be more cautious.”
Set to return for the first time since his draw with Akhmedov three months ago, Vettori on April 14 will meet the unbeaten Israel Adesanya at UFC on Fox 29 in Glendale, Arizona. Although Adesanya has an experience advantage in the striking department, Vettori believes he has an edge elsewhere: He was born and raised to be a mixed martial artist and thinks he has a better understanding of all aspects of the game.
“Adesanya has never fought a complete fighter with a head as hard as marble like me,” he said. “I will do whatever I want with him. I have no problem standing and striking with him, but this is MMA. I will bring him down at the right time, and when we’re on the ground, I will have a huge advantage. I’ll press him to death. I want to see how he fights going backwards.”
Adesanya, 28, has won all 12 of his fights by knockout or technical knockout. His first start inside the Octagon was a rousing success, as he took out Rob Wilkinson with second-round knees and punches at UFC 221 on Feb. 10.
“He’s overrated, and many people have been fooled by the hype,” Vettori said. “All this is in my favor. I feel no pressure. Whoever wants to bet on me because they believe in me will win easy money. I have a couple of tricks you’ll see. He’s a good striker if you just let him do what he does best. I won’t.”
Vettori appears to have a firm grasp on how the UFC views him in relation to Adesanya. However, he also trusts that consistent success where it counts most cures all.
“We are two good prospects,” Vettori said. “The UFC always pushes some people, whether they win or lose, and I’m sure that Adesanya will be pushed, no matter the result. I just have to keep on winning and I’ll get what I deserve. The winner of our match will have some interesting opportunities in the middleweight division.”