Tensions escalated quickly during a press conference involving challenger Marvin Vettori and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
The two fighters, who meet in a rematch at UFC 263 on Saturday in Glendale, Ariz., traded several verbal jabs and expletives throughout the session on Thursday. Vettori stood up to confront Adesanya on two occasions before the challenger was removed from the stage by security.
Adesanya (20-1) notably questioned whether Vettori (17-4-1) was worthy of a title shot given his resume. Adesanya won a split decision in their first fight in 2018, although Vettori contends that he should have won that bout.
“Like I said, look at the list of who he’s fought. The only person I know in that list is Jack Hermansson,” the 31-year-old Adesanya said. “He only got here because he fought a bum at No. 10 … and got to No. 3.”
Vettori said he has fought the men the UFC has placed in front of him, although he used more colorful language.
“Listen, I showed up every single (expletive) time, and people can’t make it to the fight with me. That’s not my fault, man,” Vettori said. “Whenever I showed up, I beat my opponents. I proved you wrong so many times. You tried to ignore me, (expletive). You tried to ignore me and here I am, (expletive).”
Adesanya, a Nigerian-born New Zealand native, returns to middleweight after an ill-considered attempt at wresting the light heavyweight title from Poland’s Jan Blachowicz in March, a bout he lost via unanimous decision.
For his part, Vettori has taken the long road to his title shot. The loss to Adesanya marked his most recent defeat, as he has since won five in a row, using his punishing heavy hands and noticeably improved cardio while climbing the ladder.
–Field Level Media