By Vanessa Ekpereka (AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Israel Adesanya won a unanimous decision in a rematch against Marvin Vettori to defend his middleweight championship at UFC 263 Saturday night.
Adesanya (21-1) kept out of reach from Vettori’s powerful punches most of the night and used his feet effectively, keeping the Italian fighter off balance.
Adesanya won 50-45 on all three judges’ scorecards in the second full-capacity UFC event without coronavirus-related restrictions.
Adesanya lost to light-heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in his last fight while trying to add a second title belt, but remains undefeated as a middleweight.
In the co-main event, flyweight Brandon Moreno (19-5-2) became the first Mexican-born champion in UFC history, using a rear naked choke in the third round in a rematch against Deiveson Figueiredo (20-2-1).
The two title fights in the desert were tainted with bad blood.
Adesanya and Vettori fought in Glendale three years ago, a split-decision win by Adesanya that left neither fighter satisfied.
Vettori believed he won, Adesanya thought it was too close and the build-up to the rematch was contentious, including an off-the-rails news conference on Thursday.
Vettori (17-4-1), as he did in the first fight, had some success on the ground in the rematch after a couple of takedowns. Adesanya wriggled free and was effective with his feet, wearing out the Italian’s front leg while dodging most of his big punches.
Adesanya snaked out of another takedown and continued to work over Vettori with his feet to defend his title.