Israel Adesanya Defeats Marvin Vettori, Retains Middleweight Title at UFC 263

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 13, 2021

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - JUNE 12: (R-L) Israel Adesanya of Nigeria kicks Marvin Vettori of Italy in their UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 263 event at Gila River Arena on June 12, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defeated title challenger Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision Saturday at UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona's Gila River Arena.

UFC @ufc

The MW throne is ALLLLLL HIS 🏆 #ANDSTILL [ @Stylebender | #UFC263 ] https://t.co/jPW697gyD0

Adesanya won the fight 50-45 on all three judges' scorecards.

There was no doubt who the better fighter was, as Adesanya landed 96 significant strikes to Vettori's 58, per UFC Stats. Vettori did land four takedowns, including this one in Round 3:

ESPN MMA @espnmma

HUGE takedown by @MarvinVettori in Round 3 💥 #UFC263 https://t.co/mqcSXkS6y1

However, Adesanya's strikes proved to be the difference. That was notably the case near the end of Round 1:

ESPN MMA @espnmma

The champ started to flow near the end of Round 1 🌊 @stylebender #UFC263 https://t.co/AtntVkbACa

UFC fighter Andre Fili also pointed out other Adesanya positives:

Andre Fili @TouchyFili

Izzy’s distance management and range control is high level. And his defensive grappling looks like it’s leveled up. #UFC263

Adesanya also escaped a rear-naked choke in Round 3:

UFC @ufc

Turned it AROUND 🔁🤯 #UFC263 https://t.co/rbaJo1gLmH

ESPN's Ariel Helwani tweeted that Adesanya appeared "non-plussed" throughout the fight. Adesanya didn't have too much to worry about outside the submission attempt, as he largely controlled the bout.

The 31-year-old moved to 21-1 for his professional career (10-1 UFC). His only loss came at light heavyweight, where he lost to division champion Jan Blachowicz via unanimous decision at UFC 259 in March.

His win over Vettori marked the New Zealand-born fighter's third title defense since winning the unified belt against Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in October 2019. He also defended against Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa.

Adesanya now has two career wins over Vettori, with his first occurring via split decision in April 2018. That fight marked the only time he didn't win via knockout or unanimous decision during his first 20 professional MMA bouts.

The UFC's No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter has 15 career knockouts.

Vettori, 27, fell to 17-5-1 in professional MMA (7-3-1 UFC). The No. 3 middleweight contender entered the evening after winning his last five fights, including a unanimous decision over Kevin Holland on April 10.