The Timaru Herald

Adesanya reasserts middlweigh­t dominance

- Marvin France

Back at middleweig­ht, back winning and back in control.

Israel Adesanya has defended his UFC middleweig­ht belt with a unanimous decision (50-34 on all three cards) over Marvin Vettori at UFC 263 in Arizona yesterday.

Adesanya, in his comeback fight following the first loss of his MMA career loss to Jan Blachowicz when challengin­g for the UFC’s light heavyweigh­t belt in an unsuccessf­ul bid to become a double champion, controlled Vettori for four of the five rounds.

Adesanya and the tough Italian fought to a split decision victory in the City Kickboxing fighter’s favour in April, 2018, but this was much more one-sided.

Since then, Adesanya has gone on to become the undisputed middleweig­ht champion.

Vettori earned his title shot after winning five straight fights and making plenty of noise about the rematch.

Earlier, Kiwi Brad Riddell dedicated the biggest victory of his UFC career to fallen team-mate Fau Vake.

Riddell continued his unbeaten run in the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion after winning a three-round war over 13thranked lightweigh­t Drew Dober by unanimous decision.

Facing a ranked opponent for the first time in the featured prelim bout of UFC 263, the Christchur­ch fighter survived a furious start and got better as the bout went on to come out on top of all three of the judges’ scorecards.

But as soon as his hand was raised Riddell’s thoughts turned to City Kickboxing team-mate Vake, a promising mixed martial artist who died last month due to injuries suffered after an alleged attack while waiting for a taxi in central Auckland.

Four men charged over the incident appeared in the Auckland District Court on Tuesday, while one of the group has been charged with manslaught­er.

‘‘My friend got murdered two weeks ago, so I was never going to lose this fight,’’ Riddell said. ‘‘I had a driving force that was bigger than me and I’m very, very grateful I still get to walk on this planet. The walkout song might have seemed a little bit weird but that was his walkout song.

‘‘That was my tribute to his family because unfortunat­ely he’ll never get to make this walk, but I miss you Fau and I hope you’re proud.’’

It was a huge result for Riddell (10-1), who made it four from four since joining the UFC in 2019, with the result likely earning him a spot in the top-15 of the division.

Apart from the takedowns, which Riddell won 5-1, it was an extremely even contest.

 ??  ?? Brad Riddell celebrates his win.
Brad Riddell celebrates his win.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand