The Stylebender Returns

The Stylebender Returns

Kiwi fighter Israel "Stylebender" Adesanya has splashed onto the international MMA scene recently, making a dramatic entrance to the UFC, and looks to cement his place in the talent-stacked 185-pound division as he takes on dynamic Italian bruiser Marvin Vettori this weekend at UFC Glendale, Arizona.

The Nigerian-born New Zealander fights out of City Kickboxing in Auckland, and holds an impressive resume chock-full of elite international competition, including kickboxing experience at the very highest level, coming razor close to winning the Glory Middleweight belt in January 2017. Since focusing his attention on Mixed Martial Arts, Adesanya has been on a path of destruction, amassing a formidable body-count of 12 MMA wins - all by KO or TKO - and no losses. 

Adesanya caught the attention of many in the MMA world with his absolute demolition of UFC legend Melvin Guillard in July 2017. Guillard is a long-time UFC, Bellator, and One FC veteran, with over 50 professional MMA fights. Adesanya made him appear amateur; tossing him dismissively to the canvas and finishing him with precisely-placed strikes in the first round.

Most recently, Adesanya made his long-awaited entrance into the UFC ranks, soundly defeating Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221 in Perth, on 11th February 2018. The bout served to silence many of Adesanya's critics, many of whom doubted his ability to survive the onslaught of a dedicated grappler at UFC level. His takedown defence looked flawless, however, as he shrugged off the persistent attempts of Wilkinson to drag him to the mat, and methodically picked him apart on the feet, stopping him with a clinical series of knees and punches against the cage in the 2nd round.

Israel Adesanya vs Rob Wilkinson /  Photo: Emanuel Rudnicki

With this dramatic victory, he put the rest of the UFC's middleweight division on notice, exacerbated by his comments in his post-fight interview, when he stated "I'm the new dog in the yard, and I just pissed all over this cage". This caught the attention of rising prospect Marvin Vettori (12W-3L-1D), a 24-year-old Italian fighter who has finished two thirds of his wins by submission. Vettori was quick to call out Adesanya on Twitter, saying "There's an Australian bum loud mouth, he thinks he's battle tested. I would love to give him his first loss".

The bout was finalised soon thereafter, and the two will meet this weekend as part of the main card of UFC: Poirier vs Gaethje, alongside UFC veterans Carlos Condit and Alex "Cowboy" Oliviera. The main card begins at 12pm NZT, and can be viewed on UFC Fight Pass, or Sky Sport 3.

Given Adesanya's world-class stand-up credentials, it seems inevitable that Vettori will attempt to make this fight a grappling contest, in an attempt to avoid the deadly strikes of the Stylebender. Will Adesanya impose his game plan on Vettori and knock him out like all of his MMA opponents thus far, or will his rise through the ranks be disrupted by "the Italian Dream"? Make sure you watch this Sunday to find out!

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