After failing to win the light heavyweight championship at UFC 259, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will return to 185 pounds to defend his title against Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 on June 12, as first reported by Globo and confirmed during the UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs. Prochazka broadcast. The fight is a rematch of an April 2018 clash, which Adesanya won by split decision.
The fight is one of two title fights on the card, with Deiveson Figueiredo defending the flyweight title against Brandon Moreno in the co-main event. Figueiredo and Moreno battled to a draw in a Fight of the Year contender this past December.
The card is set to be the third straight PPV to feature a lie crowd as UFC heads to Arizona and the Gila River Arena in Glendale. Tickets go on sale on May 13.
Adesanya won the interim middleweight championship in an April 2019 war with Kelvin Gastelum before unifying the title by knocking out then-champion Robert Whittaker that October. After successful title defenses against Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa, Adesanya moved up to light heavyweight in an attempt to become a two-division champion. Adesanya came up short against 205-pound champion Jan Blachowicz, losing a unanimous decision.
After the loss to Blachowicz, Adesanya announced his intentions to return to middleweight and continue to defend his title.
With options for fresh challengers thin, many expected Whittaker would get another shot at the belt on the strength of a three-fight winning streak, including an April 17 win over Kelvin Gastelum. Instead, Vettori got the call, securing a long-awaited rematch as it was too short of a turnaround for Whittaker to be ready, he told ESPN.
Since the split decision loss to Adesanya in the champion's second Octagon trip, Vettori has called for another shot at one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
Vettori spoke to "Morning Kombat" ahead of his April 10 decision win over Kevin Holland, discussing his takeaways from watching Adesanya suffer his first UFC loss against Blachowicz.
"I think it proved all the things I already knew," Vettori said. "Second, it's not that you can put him with Anderson Silva who defended the title 10 times and went up to light heavy. I don't think he should have went up to light heavy, but he did and he lost. Jan did a very good job, especially defensively. He just showed that Adesanya's game and his way of fighting, he's not a complete fighter. He's really not a complete fighter. People describe him as, like, I don't know. I believe he's overhyped. Even though he's the champion, I believe he's overhyped. He has been the champion, but Anderson Silva and guys like that are a different breed. I can't wait to just redo it and re-run it. It's going to be a whole different fight and I can't f---ing wait.
"This guy won't even mention my name. He'll throw hints at me doing shit like this, trying to get me mad. And he doesn't even say my name, he says 'the Italian guy.'"
Since losing the first fight with Adesanya, Vettori has gone on a five-fight winning streak.