— Reuters (@Reuters) April 25, 2021
Two-weight champions in UFC are not unheard of, but Israel Adesanya knows achieving it is a lot easier said than done. After dominating the Middleweight division, “The Last Stylebender” brought an unbeaten 20-0 record into a new challenge earlier this year.
That was attempting to step up to Light Heavyweight in a bout at UFC 259 in the spring when he was favorite over titleholder Jan Blachowicz. Naysayers claimed his Polish opponent only had the belt because Jon Jones vacated it.
However, Adesanya’s undefeated streak in MMA ended in March with Blachowicz recording a unanimous decision victory based on the judges’ scorecards. On the face of it, the Nigeria-born cage fighter lost to a man seven years older than him who had lost five times since signing with the UFC.
— UFC News (@UFCNews) March 7, 2021
Blachowicz was underestimated in the market, but Adesanya remains a force to be reckoned with This is not the first time he has suffered defeat in a combat sports environment. Adesanya was also a professional kickboxer and had humbling losses in that discipline.
UFC president Dana White is finalizing a return to Middleweight and defense of that title in a rematch with Marvin Vettori of Italy. That is slated to headline UFC 263 on June 12. When these two met previously, the bout went the distance and split the judges.
Their first encounter was three years ago on a UFC on Fox event headlined by a bout between high-profile Lightweight duo Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. There was just one point in it on each of the judges’ scorecards, so nobody had pushed Adesanya so close inside the octagon until the Blachowicz bout.
Vettori has won each of his five subsequent MMA fights on minor UFC shows. He is also the number three ranked contender, but the date of this bout comes too soon for top rated challenger Robert Whittaker.
Adesanya has already beaten that rival at UFC 243 when unifying the Middleweight division back in the fall of 2019. Despite that, Whittaker will reportedly await the winner of his bout with Veottriovie
Owing to his dominance at Middleweight, and the fact that he’s already edged the Italian before, Adesanya will once again be the likely favourite in the MMA betting available with oddsmakers. One loss in the weight class above certainly doesn’t mean The Last Stylebender has lost his magic.
The expectation is that Adesanya will bounce back from the defeat. Even if all the judges didn’t agree on the outcome of his first fight with Vettori, the record books have the win next to his name.
Coming into a return match with an old rival off the back of a loss means Adesanya, who represents New Zealand, has something to prove. He could end up making a statement that soon erases any lingering disappointment.
This is all about how Adesanya responds to the first setback of his MMA career. At Middleweight, he has beaten the best fighters UFC have to offer and may do so once again.