Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is coming back down to 185 pounds after coming up short in his attempt to become the UFC’s light heavyweight champion. According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto citing UFC President Dana White, Adesanya will drop back down to the division he reigns over and will meet surging contender, Marvin Vettori for the middleweight title at UFC 263 in June.
This will be the first fight back at middleweight for Israel Adesanya since he lost to light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in his attempt to become a two-weight champion earlier this year. The loss to Blachowicz was the first of Adesanya’s professional MMA career, and now returns to a middleweight division which has seen him win the interim title, undisputed title, and defend that title twice.
Adesanya’s last middleweight victory came against previously undefeated rival Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in September of 2020. During his championship run in the middleweight division, Adesanya has defeated the likes of Costa, Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum, Anderson Silva, and Derek Brunson among others.
In his second UFC appearance back in 2018, Adesanya defeated Vettori by split decision and since then, Vettori has been vocal about wanting the rematch back. Since the loss to Adesanya, Vettori has gone undefeated putting together a five-fight winning streak including wins over the likes of Kevin Holland, Jack Hermansson, and Karl Roberson.
UFC 263 is set to take place on June 12 and here are the fights that have been reported for the card:
- Israel Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori (middleweight title)
- Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno (flyweight title)
- Jake Collier vs Carlos Felipe
- Luigi Vendramini vs Fares Ziam
- Hakeem Dawodu vs Movsar Evloev
- Sijara Eubanks vs Karol Rosa
- Paul Craig vs Jamahal Hill
- Joanne Calderwood vs Lauren Murphy
- Demian Maia vs Belal Muhammad
- Frank Camacho vs Matt Frevola
- Drew Dober vs Brad Riddell
While the next middleweight title fight is set, it appears the next challenger is already set. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani reported on Saturday that former champion Robert Whittaker is likely to face the winner of Adesanya vs Vettori.
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