Coming off the first loss of his professional career, Israel Adesanya (21-1) left no question who the king of the middleweight division is, successfully defending his title against Martin Vettori (17-5-1) at UFC 263 from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Vettori didn’t waste any time putting his gameplan into play, catching a low kick by Adesanya and putting the champ on his back. Unlike his fight against Jan Blachowicz in March, Adesanya found his way back to his feet with relative ease. Adesanya set things up with a nice collection of thigh kicks before moving to the head with a slew of combinations.
Adesanya continued to chip away at Vettori’s leg in the second, fighting off a takedown attempt early to keep things on their feet. Adesanya’s calm demeanor was on full display through the first two rounds as he continued to pick apart Vettori.
Vettori came out aggressive in the third, taking Adesanya onto the ground less than a minute into the round and putting his weight on the champ. As Adesanya attempted to get out of the guard, Vettori took his back. Adesanya seamlessly transitioned out and moved into the guard before allowing Vettori back to his feet. Adesanya continued to work on Vettori’s leg as the two exchanged shots up top.
Vettori took Adesanya to the ground yet again in the fourth, but the champ had no problem returning to his feet. A clearly exhausted Vettori ate shot after shot as Adesanya picked him apart over and again.
The fifth followed the same pattern of the prior four rounds, with Adesanya waiting for Vettori to come forward and the champ just knocking him back.
The main event featured the first title defense that was a rematch of Adesanya’s career, coming on the heels of the champ losing in his attempt to move up to light heavyweight in March. He came into Saturday night with two years worth of victories across the middleweight division, handing losses to Kevin Gastelum, Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa.
But his opponent, Vettori, claimed he’d seen holes in Adesanya’s tilt with Blachowicz. Despite those apparent holes, Adesanya handed Vettori his first defeat since his 2018 loss at the hands of the champ. Before Saturday night, Vettori had rattled off five consecutive wins.