Vettori (18-5-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) faces former champion Whittaker (23-6 MMA, 14-4 UFC) in Saturday’s co-main event at Accor Arena in Paris. The card streams on ESPN+.
Whittaker found success using his wrestling against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in their title-fight rematch at UFC 271, but if he tries to against Vettori, the Italian fighter says it won’t work.
“He can’t grapple with me,” Vettori told reporters at Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 209 media day. “He can’t grapple and be successful with me. He just can’t. So he’ll try, and I’ll welcome it if he does, but he really can’t. I can, and I can do anything in that fight, and I will because it’s MMA at the end of the day. But like I said, I think I match up very bad for him. My skills match up very well for myself against him. The way that I fight will drain him, will make him do mistakes, and I’ll capitalize on those.”
Both Vettori and Whittaker recently fell short to Adesanya for the middleweight title, but Vettori doesn’t think “The Reaper” has evolved much in his past couple of fights.
“He’s definitely very good. But with that being said, he’s the same fighter that he was a year ago,” Vettori said. “He’s the same fighter that he was in his last fight. I’m not. I keep improving. I’m more hungry, and I’m on my way up. I don’t believe he is. So that’s the biggest difference there.
“I’m going to try and really finish him, either submission or striking or knockout. If not, it’ll be dominant. It’ll be very dominant.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 209.