Many fans were upset to find out that Marvin Vettori would be the next title challenger for Israel Adesanya instead of Robert Whittaker. The par will meet in the main event of UFC 263 which takes place on June 13th.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 24, 2021
As you know, Whittaker is one of the few former UFC champions who has had to face THREE contenders just to earn himself a title shot again. However, after looking at the optics, I can understand the matchmaking here and I don’t mind it.
Timing Is Everything
Long story short, the UFC wanted Adesanya to fight in June and Whittaker said he wasn’t ready. Of course, “The Reaper” is coming off an impressive decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC Vegas 24 where he defeated “The Ultimate Fighter” winner by decision.
He made it look easy. Robert Whittaker ran an MMA clinic on Kelvin Gastelum last weekend, but what were some of the finer details that allowed him to do so? Our guy @fenoxsky breaks it down, in-depth and in style. https://t.co/Z5uDzj2OfY
— The Fight Site (@FightSitedotcom) April 21, 2021
The 30-year-old didn’t want to have a quick turnaround because he needed time to recover and wanted to spend more time with his family, While Adesanya did just fight in March at light heavyweight, he hasn’t defended his middleweight title since a Sept. 2020 TKO victory over Paulo Costa at UFC 253. Whittaker’s timetable for a return would have meant the 185-pound belt wouldn’t have been defended for close to a year. The optics here make sense.
History on Vettori’s Side
Vettori is coming off a decision win over Kevin Holland at UFC on ABC 2 where many pundits didn’t feel was worthy of a title shot. In fact, the Kings MMA product only has two wins over ranked opponents during his five-fight win streak (that being Holland and Jack Hermansson.) However, Vettori fighting Adesanya in his fifth UFC fight is definitely playing a role here. The 27-year-old took Adesanya to a split decision, despite the majority of media members believing the current champion won the fight. That and Vettoris trash talk has certainly put him in a good position to take the fight here.
Right now on Fanduel sportsbook, Adesanya is -275 betting favorite (bet $275 to win $100) over Vettori who sits at +220. I believe the line is accurate here with Adesanya boasting some impressive victories during his run in the middleweight division. Add in the fact that “The Last Stylebender” is arguably the better striker and holds a win over the Italian fighter, all signs indicate that Adesanya will retain his middleweight title on June 13th.