Two middleweights looking to claw their way back into title contention threw down atop UFC Vegas 75, with both Marvin Vettori and Jared Cannonier both having prior losses to champ Israel Adesanya.
Firmly back in the line behind Robert Whittaker and Dricus Du Plessis, set to throw down later this summer, Vettori and Cannonier were fighting simply to keep hope alive. Hope that maybe, just maybe, they might be next, given another shot at “The Last Stylebender.”
Cannonier immediately attacked the lead leg of Italy’s Vettori on Saturday, but it was Vettori drawing first blood care of a left hand that rocked Cannonier! Vettori looked to follow up, but Cannonier was evasive and fought off his opponent well enough to earn a reprieve. Cannonier almost certainly remained compromised, however, with a good three and a half minutes still on the clock in round one.
Not to be outdone, it was Cannonier landing heavy leather next, the exchanges summoning thoughts of Vettori’s media day appearance, where he suggested the pair fight as if there were no second round. When Vettori again clipped Cannonier with just over 90 seconds left in the frame, it felt like there might not be — but after some more back-and-forth, they would make it to the second.
Round two found Jared Cannonier walking Vettori down, working his jab and firing a powerful right hand. The forward pressure and chiselled physique had Cannonier looking like something out of a horror movie, that right hand poised for the killing blow. Vettori proved to have an impressive chin, eating a few heavy shots, but when Cannonier kicked the legs out from under the Italian, Marvin appeared unable to buck his opponent off, or scramble out. Eventually, Vettori struggled to his feet, a seemingly gargantuan effort that saw him covering up and eating more shots soon after.
Again, Vettori’s chin kept him in the fight, with the final minute of the round arriving as Cannonier battered “The Italian Dream” with elbows in nightmare fashion. Vettori, after getting off the cage, did fire of a few final strikes, proving he might be down, but not out.
A bruised and swollen Marvin Vettori answered the bell in round three, unleashing a pair of leg kicks and working his jab to keep Cannonier at a distance. Vettori might have found a second wind, looking surprisingly light on his feet given the beating he had endured in round two. Cannonier, however, appeared equally fresh, though an attempt to tie things up and maybe take the fight down was stymied by Vettori.
Vettori’s face, swollen to start the third, was bloodied by the midway mark after several more right hands crashed into their target. Along the fence, he nearly went down, but fought off Cannonier on the way up, and later even connected with a few standing elbows as Cannonier was on his way in. Perhaps key, or at least keeping himself alive, Vettori landed a takedown with about a minute to go, but Cannonier was straight back to his feet, likely negating that effort.
Jared Cannonier fed Vettori another right hand to open round four. The pair traded kicks, exchanged up top, and appeared to have slowed just a step, standing at center to handle their business. It was Cannonier finally imposing his will, walking Vettori down — then landed a takedown, though as Cannonier did earlier, Marvin popped straight back up.
Towards the latter part of the round, Cannonier found more success on the feet, but still, Vettori would just not go away.
Round five was do or die for Marvin Vettori, while Jared Cannonier in all honestly just needed to show more of the same. Vettori’s face hag begun to resemble ground beef, in case there was any question as to how the fight had gone to that point. Still, the Italian proved tough, staying in the fight, still dangerous, ripping a kick to the body here, a right hand there.
Landing a few more heavy punches with nasty intentions, Cannonier planted Vettori on his back with one final takedown. The ground strikes followed, but Vettori was able to wall-walk back up, eating another damaging blow for his efforts. It was clear Vettori would not go down, but equally clear that Cannonier had won the fight.
Official Result: Jared Cannonier def. Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 48-46)