Karl Roberson made Marvin Vettori’s job exponentially more difficult on Friday when he missed weight for the second time in a month.
Roberson and Vettori were supposed to fight on May 13 in Jacksonville, Florida, but Roberson missed weight and was having health issues during his weight cut. The fight was pulled and Vettori, who had a fight canceled in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, was so irate that the two nearly came to blows in the fighter hotel when they crossed paths after the weigh-in.
It was rescheduled for Saturday as the co-main event at UFC Apex, and upon arriving in Las Vegas, Vettori said his anger at Roberson hadn’t subsided. The key, though, was for him not to fight angry.
“I have to go in like a killer, calm and collected like a hitman,” said Vettori, who is known as “The Italian Dream.” “I can’t let it play against me. The emotions will come out at the right time, but I can’t let it work the opposite. I will go in calm and collected like a hitman. I’ll hit the guy and go collect my check.”
That was on Wednesday, a little more than 48 hours before the weigh-in. Roberson came in early during the two-hour weigh-in window and hit the scales at 190.5, 4.5 pounds more than the 186-pound middleweight non-title fight limit.
Roberson looked muscular and strong, so it appears that if he were to cut, he would have been cutting muscle. But he signed the contract and his job was to make it to 186 pounds and, for the second time in a month, he failed to do it.
Vettori is an emotional sort and it doesn’t take much to get him rolling. He is from Trento, Italy, but there isn’t a lot of high-level MMA in Italy so he has based himself in the U.S. and trained out of Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, California. Working with Coach Rafael Cordeiro and staff has been a blessing for Vettori, whose game has developed rapidly since the move, but not everything has been smooth.
To say the least, he wasn’t thrilled that Roberson missed again, and so badly.
“The first thing I said was, ‘This guy is a [expletive] ho because he didn’t make weight last time and he’s not making it this time, by more this time,” Vettori said Friday after hitting the limit on the number at 186. “I just want him to show up. I will tell him this: Just show up. Just show up. He didn’t do half the job, on making weight. At least show up, [which is] the other half of the job. That’s all I want and that’s how we can settle it.
“He’s been saying he wants to test himself with higher level fighters. He’s not proving to really want that. I just want him to show up. I think his head is all over the place, honestly. I’m not going to underestimate him, but he’s all over the place and tomorrow I’m going to make him pay.”
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He’s motivated to defeat Roberson in a one-sided manner, not only to get back at him for missing weight but also to prove he’s a legitimate contender in the division.
He gave the current middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, one of his toughest fights when they met in Glendale, Arizona, on April 14, 2018. Adesanya won a split decision and used that victory as a springboard to the title.
Vettori has also gotten a bounce from it. It was a fight he could have won, and seeing what Adesanya has been able to do since has been an eye-opener. Vettori has won back-to-back fights and looking to make it his first three-fight winning streak in the UFC when he meets Roberson.
He was confident he’d win long before he’d had an issue with Roberson, but he’s even more confident now. He has come a long way from the days when he was in Italy, where there isn’t a lot of high-level MMA and he had to travel to five or six gyms to get work in.
Now, he’s training with the best in the world and believes he’s going to show that to the public.
“My confidence has always been there, but being at Kings MMA with the type of people we have, that just reinforces what I already knew,” Vettori said. “I’m an elite athlete and I am taking advantage of this great situation I am in.”
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