If it seemed like it was almost too easy for Israel Adesanya at UFC 263, well, that’s because it probably was.
“The Last Stylebender” closed the book on his rivalry with Marvin Vettori in convincing fashion, winning a five-round verdict on Saturday night to retain his middleweight crown at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Outside of a handful of takedowns and a brief moment where he had Adesanya’s back, Vettori did little to test his opponent in their rematch.
“I actually was in cruise control,” Adesanya said. “There was a point my coach had to yell at me, ‘Don’t get bored!’ and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, true, stay focused.’ I don’t even know what round it was, but I had to stay focused. I had fun out there.
“I felt no threat. Even when he had my back, I was not threatened at all. Not even in the slightest.”
In the aftermath of his latest triumph, Adesanya took a moment to reflect on the moment he knew Vettori was a beaten man.
“There was a point when I reversed that [position]… I spun inside his guard and I held him in a choke, that sexy choke, I looked into his eyes and I said to him, “You’re scared, aren’t you?”, because I saw that look in his eyes.,” Adesanya said. “I swear to God, I’ll never forget that look. I will never forget that look. I looked in his eyes, I saw his soul leave his body and I said, “You’re scared, aren’t you?”. That was very satisfying.”
Vettori entered UFC 263 knowing he took a judge’s scorecard from Adesanya in a split-decision loss at UFC on Fox 29 in April 2018, but he didn’t come close to duplicating that feat this time around. Still, he and Adesanya engaged in a contentious discussion about who won the fight after the final verdict was announced.
“I don’t know because even at the end of the fight, I was like, ‘You can at least say I won that one,'” Adesanya said. “He’s like, ‘What? This one? This one?’ I was like, ‘Are you serious? I won that.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, no. We can’t. We can’t.’ Eric Cartman mentality, man. You’ve got to believe your own bulls--t, sometimes. He said I believe my own hype? But wow, after that, who’s believing their own hype?”
According to Adesanya, that mentality of denial won’t help Vettori in the long run. He encouraged “The Italian Dream” to do some soul searching and come to terms with what happened in the Octagon on Saturday night.
“I don’t know where this whole mentality comes from that, ‘Oh, you took a loss, and now you’re over.’ Nah, it’s part of life. Take it and let it improve you,” Adesanya said. “My advice to him would be to look yourself in the mirror tonight – maybe not tonight. Give it a week. Let things settle down. Look at yourself in the mirror and be like, ‘Look, Israel is better than you. Israel is better than you. Izzy is way better than you. You couldn’t do s--t to him, but I’m going to get better from this.’ I swear to you, his next fight will improve if he does the work right. But you’ve got to let it go. You’ve got to let it go.”
Even though he swept the scorecards against his Italian opponent and won his 10th consecutive UFC bout at 185 pounds, Adesanya still saw room to improve upon his performance.
“Punch him more in the face. I kicked his leg, he is going to be limping tomorrow, I’ll be fine. But I wish I punched him more in the face,” he said. “He had better boxing, he’s improved his boxing, credit to him and his coach for that.”
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