Former UFC middleweight champion and UFC commentator Michael Bisping struggled to corral the current UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori as they exchanged insults and profanities in an interview promoting UFC 263.
“I don’t like you, man,” Vettori declared in the midst of things.
“I f*cking hate you,” Adesanya shot back.
Clips of the interview were shown during the broadcast of UFC Vegas 28 on Saturday. But there wasn’t nearly enough time – or a censor with a fast enough trigger finger – to accommodate over 11 minutes of insults as Adesanya and Vettori nearly shouted at each other at points.
“Let me jump in here fellas,” said a stone-faced Bisping as he managed to find a spot to interject.
There were no death threats a la Frank Mir before his rematch with Brock Lesnar, and everyone knew the mics were hot, unlike Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier before their first fight. But Adesanya and Vettori made it very, very clear where they stand. When one got close to the camera, the other followed. When one raised his voice, the other got louder.
They plan on settling things this Saturday at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Vettori is dead set on avenging a split decision loss to Adesanya when they first met at UFC on FOX 29 in 2018. The Italian is still convinced he won the bout, a claim that prompted Adesanya to burst out laughing early in the Zoom-style interview.
“He laughs, but he’s going to see,” Vettori said. “I’m going to settle the score once and for all, and I’m going to show the world who’s the best middleweight around.”
“Let it go!” Adesanya retorted, explaining that the Italian’s insistence on hanging on to the previous result was part of his problem.
Since that loss, Vettori has made it clear that the previous result has only inspired him to do better. Five straight wins have earned him a title shot, though Adesanya’s team has said the only reason a second fight was booked was due to the champ wanting to stay active.
Adesanya, meanwhile, is coming off a setback after a bid to become a two-division champ backfired when he lost a decision to light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. Vettori marks his return to 185 pounds, and a chance to reassert the dominance that was broken only by his trip to a bigger division.
“I’m gonna finish the job,” Adesanya said. “Last time you had hope because one dumb judge gave you that f*cking fight, when everyone else knows that you lost that fight. This time I’m going to make sure. You’re going to look at me and gonna realize it’s over. This is it. You can’t beat me.”
Vettori declared a victory of sorts just by getting the rematch, a fact he gloated about during the interview. Adesanya was none too happy about that.
“He’s like that crazy ex-girlfriend that you dump and won’t leave you alone, that’ll keep stalking you, scratching your car, come in to your workplace, harassing you, trying to get your attention in every way,” the champ said.
“I’m your f*cking nightmare, buddy!” Vettori crowed with a big smile. “I’ll be there for your whole life!”
“Bro, you’re the Italian wet dream! You ain’t no nightmare,” Adesanya replied. “You’re that little ex-lax dump. ... Your boy Gastelum had every right to come at me, but he doesn’t, because he’s actually a man who believes he will see me again.”
“How many times did you say you were not going to see me again,” Vettori persisted. “How many times did I prove you wrong?”
“You’re going to fight me, but you can’t see me,” Adesanya replied.
“Listen, I have a higher defense in the middleweight division than you have,” Vettori said. “And you talk about me being able to see you?”
Adesanya boasted that of the two, he was the one who’d made the most improvements. Vettori, he said, plodded with his footwork and threw bad punches. That put them on a completely different level for a fight he dubbed “The Italian Job, Part 2.”
Adesanya also tried early to give Vettori a little bit of credit for improving his wrestling. But Vettori wasn’t hearing that.
“He’s proving me exactly right with the way that he’s thinking, and I love it that he’s thinking that way,” the challenger said. “Yes, yes, you’re right. My footwork doesn’t work. I’m just going to wrestle you, buddy. I’m going to hang on to a leg and take you down and eventually tear you up. That’s eventually what I’m going to do.”
“Is it?” Bisping interjected, reminding the middleweights for a brief moment of his presence.
Then it was back to the races as the UFC Hall of Famer asked for predictions. Both middleweights, of course, predicted a reckoning for the other.
“You’re going to look at me and know that I am better than you,” said Adesanya, moving toward the camera again. “You have zero hope this time.”
“Try,” Vettori countered. “Please try.”
“Thanks for joining us today,” said Bisping, closing the Zoom argument. “If this is anything to go by, the fight is going to be incredible.”