Israel Adesanya met the judges for the first time in his MMA career at UFC Glendale on Saturday night.
Israel Adesanya blew up the MMA internet almost immediately when he made his UFC debut earlier this year at UFC 221. The decorated kickboxer put on a show at the event in Perth, Australia, and served warning to the rest of the middleweight division: a new player was in town. Of course, it’s far too early to tell where Asesanya’s ceiling will be in the UFC. With a 12-0 record heading in to Saturday night at UFC Glendale, however, things were looking up.
The quick turnaround would also serve to keep Adesanya in the spotlight, while opponent Marvin Vettori had a chance to derail the hype train. The Italian, however, came up just short.
Vettori scored with a leg kick early; Adesanya answered back with one of his own. Another came shortly after. Vettori looked to pressure his opponent, moving forward and throwing hands, as well as high kicks and leg attacks. Vettori then pushed his opponent into the cage, and looked for a trip, which Adesanya stepped over several times before pulling free. Adesanya changed stances often, Vettori, however, showed no fear and no hesitation. Adesanya flashed a number of feints, with Vettori falling for every one. Vettori’s kicks, meanwhile, were being caught more often than not.
An eye poke broke up the action briefly, with Vettori getting time to recover. Back underway, he scored with a heavy body kick, while Adesanya threw hard kicks at the Italian’s lead leg. As the round progressed, Adesanya seemed to pick up the pace, while Vettori was caught flat-footed too often.
The second round saw incredible head movement from Israel Adesanya. He began to land at will on Vettori, connecting with some heavy strikes. Adesanya then ate a kick, but appeared no worse for the wear. On the other side, the continued leg kicks were beginning to have a cumulative effect on Marvin Vettori. His movement was clearly hampered, and he simply wasn’t checking the attacks nearly enough. An elbow later connected from Adesanya, which Vettori seemed to question as far as legality, despite being a clean blow. That led to a bit of jawing between the two. By the end of the second, Adesanya was well ahead.
Marvin Vettori came forward with a renewed show of aggression to open round three. Yet for all his efforts, he was mostly ineffective. Adesanya was able to avoid the bulk of his attacks, though Vettori would finally score a takedown in round three. On his back, Adesanya was mostly ineffective, but it didn’t take long for him to work his way back up – only to be dumped back down. Adesanya actually worked for a leg lock, but before long he pulled free. Vettori would score another takedown, that was short lived as well. Perhaps most baffling was why Vettori didn’t try this approach earlier, as by the third, it was too little, too late. Vettori was bloodied, and Israel Adesanya ultimatly victorious after three rounds. The bout represented the first trip to the scorecards for ‘The Last Stylebender.’
Israel Adesanya def. Marvin Vettori by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)