U.F.C. 263: Adesanya and Vettori Get Their Rematch

PHOENIX — A shirtless, chiseled Israel Adesanya held the gold Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight belt above his head as his opponent, Marvin Vettori, sneered and hurled vulgarities on the champion throughout a information convention. U.F.C. President Dana White separated them along with his outstretched arms.

The two will combat on Saturday night time at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz., the identical website the place they brawled in 2018 in a three-round contest with a disputed final result. Adesanya gained through break up resolution, with two of the three judges declaring him victorious. Since then, the kickboxer has soared to the peak of the game, successful seven consecutive fights within the 185-pound division, together with capturing the title in 2019 through a second-round knockout.

But Vettori ascended too, successful 5 consecutive fights, all of the whereas claiming he had defeated the champion three years in the past. Adesanya mentioned he listened, and is comfortable the 2 can lastly settle the controversy.

“He holds on to that fight like it is the biggest win in his career,” Adesanya mentioned.

Adesanya and Vettori’s conflict at Saturday’s U.F.C. 263 card is certainly one of two rematches from tightly contested fights. The different is amongst flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and the challenger, Brandon Moreno, a repeat of a December 2020 battle that resulted in a draw.

Nate Diaz, a fan favourite and U.F.C. veteran, additionally returns from a virtually two-year absence to combat Leon Edwards, a powerful welterweight contender, in a five-round 170-pound bout. Normally, Edwards and Diaz would combat three rounds as an undercard combat and not using a title on the road. But each fighters needed to combat 5 rounds, and for the primary time in U.F.C. historical past, White allowed it.

U.F.C. 263 is the second current occasion the corporate plans to function within the United States with none coronavirus-related restrictions, comparable to masks, social distancing or capability limits. Nearly two months in the past, in Jacksonville, Fla., about 15,000 spectators watched Kamaru Usman defend his welterweight belt through knockout in opposition to Jorge Masvidal. For a lot of the pandemic, the championship has hosted occasions with restricted or no followers at its complicated in Las Vegas, the place the U.F.C. is headquartered, in addition to in Florida and within the United Arab Emirates.

“It was always super important because it is so close to Vegas,” White mentioned about internet hosting an occasion in Phoenix. “We did the last one here and then this pandemic hit. You have Florida, you have Texas and you have Arizona. Thank God for those three states.”

Adesanya, who signed with the U.F.C. in 2017, rapidly catapulted to one of many firm’s most marketable stars shortly after his combat with Vettori.

The fighter was born in Nigeria and relocated to New Zealand along with his household at age 12. He started working towards combined martial arts as a result of he was bullied throughout childhood, he mentioned.

Adesanya, presently ranked the No. four pound-for-pound fighter within the U.F.C., boasts 15 knockout finishes and is revered for his size and exact placing.

Three months in the past, he challenged Jan Blachowicz for the sunshine heavyweight title, attempting to affix Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier, Amanda Nunes and Henry Cejudo as the one fighters to carry belts concurrently in a number of weight lessons.

But he weighed in 5 kilos below the 205-pound restrict, and Blachowicz utilized the stark distinction (which seemingly grew after he rehydrated from slicing weight) by wrestling in opposition to Adesanya, successful through unanimous resolution. It was the primary defeat in Adesanya’s skilled profession. After the combat, he mentioned he would return to middleweight and defend the belt along with his “iron Black fists.”

Adesanya defended nicely in opposition to most of Vettori’s takedown makes an attempt in 2018, and Vettori will almost certainly attempt to convey Adesanya to the bottom within the rematch. Since the loss, he has gained 5 consecutive fights, and is attempting to turn into the primary Italian U.F.C. champion. Their sore emotions have solely intensified for the reason that first assembly.

After Adesanya insulted Vettori in the course of the information convention, he rose from his seat to strategy him, stopped by safety guards.

Figueiredo and Moreno additionally share a feud. At the information convention, Figueiredo pushed Moreno, prompting safety to step in. In December, each males fought in Las Vegas in a five-round battle, a conflict so shut that judges didn’t declare a winner.

Figueiredo nonetheless retained the 125-pound belt, however the inconclusive end result necessitated a rematch. The fast-paced combat stopped momentarily within the third spherical when Figueiredo unintentionally kicked Moreno close to the groin, which is illegitimate. The level deducted from Figueiredo by the referee could have been the distinction on the rating playing cards.

But probably the most anticipated combat amongst followers could also be Diaz in opposition to Edwards. Though Diaz is predicated in Stockton, Calif., his assist from the group was the loudest throughout their information convention, and it turned even noisier when he lowered his head, lit a lighter and started smoking marijuana at his seat.

Diaz entered the U.F.C. in 2007 and had at all times been revered among the many devoted trustworthy. But he rose to mainstream prominence in 2016, when he fought McGregor on brief discover as an damage alternative, submitting the brash Irish star in a chokehold within the second spherical. They accomplished an exhilarating rematch a number of months later, which Diaz misplaced in a choice.

He fought twice in 2019, beating Anthony Pettis however dropping to Masvidal. Despite his inactivity, his assist among the many followers and on social media confirmed that his standing had not diminished. He mentioned he selected to combat Edwards due to his stout report.

Edwards has gained eight consecutive fights since 2015, when he misplaced through resolution to Usman. His final combat, in opposition to Belal Muhammad in March, was dominated a no contest after Edwards unintentionally poked the fighter within the eye.

“I wanted to fight a worthy opponent and that’s what I’m here for,” Diaz mentioned. “I’m coming to win.”

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