Vettori (18-4-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) dropped two decisions to middleweight champion Adesanya, including one in a title fight at UFC 263. The Italian fighter rebounded with a big win over Paulo Costa in October 2021 and meets former champion Robert Whittaker in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 209 co-main event at Accor Arena in Paris. The card streams on ESPN+.
Adesanya (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) will defend his title against former kickboxing foe Alex Pereira (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in the UFC 281 main event Nov. 12, and Vettori expects to get another crack at the belt with a win over Whittaker (23-6 MMA, 14-4 UFC).
“I want Pereira to win just because it would excite me more as the next challenger, eventually,” Vettori told reporters at Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 209 media day. “And I think that will happen because after this, I’m going to establish myself as the No. 1 contender. I mean, what’s left for me? I’ve pretty much fought everybody, and I think it will be undeniable, another title shot with a great performance against Whittaker.
“Adesanya, it’s over. Nothing excites me about that guy. Of course, I’ll get my win against him before I’m done with all this, but the things that he can do best – now he’s painting his nails. I definitely like more Pereira and the way he carries himself and the way he goes about fighting and all that – not much bullsh*t, just straight, bad motherf*cker type of thing, and that’s it.”
Pereira holds two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, including one by knockout. It comes as no surprise, but Vettori hopes Pereira can put “The Stylebender” out cold once again.
“I really hope he goes out in another oxygen mask, and I think it can happen, because that’s going to be a kickboxing fight,” Vettori said.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 209.