Marvin Vettori has officially crossed the threshold from top-15 fighter to potential title contender.
After accepting a short-notice opportunity to compete in the UFC Vegas 16 main event, the Italian middleweight proved why he belongs among the best in the division while putting on a striking showcase to win a unanimous decision over Jack Hermansson after five hard-fought rounds.
The judges scored the fight 49-46, 49-46 and 49-45 with Vettori getting his fourth win in a row overall but none bigger than the victory he secured on Saturday night.
Despite the outcome, Vettori was still critical of his performance where he and Hermansson exchanged the most significant strikes in UFC middleweight history.
“I’m going to tell you the truth, I don’t feel great,” Vettori said when assessing his win. “I don’t feel I did a very good job. I feel I can do much better but man this guy is tough. I dropped him in the first and I thought I was going to finish him but he came back.
“Today, I got hella stronger. It was a hell of a fight. I’m so happy I got the win.”
There was no feeling out process for Vettori as he started moving forward as soon as the fight got started, showcasing fast hands and quick combinations on the feet. While Vettori appeared to be the more effective striker, Hermansson was still firing back and connecting with some stiff shots of his own.
Midway through the opening round, Vettori unleashed a nasty left-right combination that snapped Hermansson’s head back and sent him crashing to the canvas. Vettori followed him to the ground but opted for a submission attempt rather than continuing to chip away with punches, which allowed Hermansson just enough time to recover.
In an attempt to lean on his submission arsenal, Hermansson did start looking for takedowns but Vettori was slick with defense as well as his reversals while putting on adequate pressure whenever he was on top.
While Vettori was ahead early, Hermansson showed strong conditioning, which allowed him to stay in the fight but he still wasn’t doing a ton of damage on the feet.. Despite Hermansson’s best efforts to stage a comeback, Vettori was largely walking through his punches and countering with a clear power advantage.
As the fight moved into the championship rounds, Vettori was feeding Hermansson a steady diet of straight left hands that were almost always finding a home on the chin. Despite being ahead on the scorecards, Vettori was still absolutely willing to engage in exchanges with Hermansson and he was definitely connecting with more effective punches.
When the fight ended and the decision was announced, Vettori fell to the ground to celebrate a huge win as he undoubtedly joins the upper echelon in the middleweight division rankings.
With middleweight champion Israel Adesanya expected to move to 205 pounds to challenge light heavyweight king Jan Blachowicz in his next fight, Vettori will seek to earn a title shot with one more win and he already had a name in mind.
“Let’s go Borrachinha!” Vettori shouted in reference to Paulo Costa.
Obviously Vettori is wasting no time taking advantage of the spotlight and a win over Costa would almost assuredly put him in line to battle for UFC gold.