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UFC Fight Night guide: Marvin Vettori’s path to the top has been full of twists

For UFC middleweight Marvin Vettori, the past year has been equally rewarding and frustrating.

Vettori (16-3-1) will face Kevin Holland (21-6) in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday afternoon, the second UFC event to air on ABC (3 p.m. ET, noon preliminaries on ESPN / ESPN Deportes, initial preliminaries at 11:30 am on ESPN +; all action will be seen on ESPN Deportes). It is a great opportunity for Vettori, although it would have been even greater if his original opponent, the popular Englishman Darren Till, had not withdrawn from the fight last week due to injury.

Speaking to the media this week in Las Vegas, Vettori said the late opponent switch feels more normal than if he had had to fight the man he was grooming for. It’s been that kind of year for the 28-year-old Italian. He had three fights that fell apart in early 2020, with one being postponed only after he had flown from Los Angeles to London for the event.

Then in December, Vettori was scheduled to fight Omari Akhmedov on the 12th, which turned into a fight against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza on the 12th, which turned into a five-round main event against Jack Hermansson on the 5th. All due to circumstances that were not under his control.

If there is one constant, it is Vettori himself. It’s hard to find a more confident fighter in the UFC right now. He agreed with every opponent and date change along the way, which not everyone does, and took advantage of the fights that took place. In particular, his victory over Hermansson in December sent a direct message to the rest of the division.

In Holland, Vettori will face a fighter with many positives – in 2020 he became the first middleweight in UFC history to record five wins in a calendar year – but also one that arguably comes off the worst performance of his career. . Just three weeks ago, Holland suffered a decision loss to Derek Brunson, then faced criticism for his mental focus. To many, including his own coaches, it seemed like Holland essentially gave in to Brunson before the fight was over.

So Saturday is an important redemptive opportunity for Holland. For Vettori, it’s an opportunity to increase his four-win streak, and also to beat Holland even more convincingly than Brunson, who the UFC places No. 4 in the division. And if Vettori does that, he said he should be above Brunson as well as Till’s No. 5.

Vettori’s path to this main event on ABC and ESPN Deportes has been unconventional and twisty, but if he can come out on Saturday, his future should be a bit more predictable. Because if you win this fight, there will only be a handful of matches left that make sense. And all the options on that list would be big fights.

The numbers

21: Days that will have passed, on Saturday, since Holland’s loss on March 20 to Derek Brunson. This unites Holland with Michael Bisping and Deiveson Figueiredo for the shortest return to fight from main event to main event in UFC history.

164: Significant blows landed by Vettori in his most recent fight, a unanimous decision win over Jack Hermansson in December. That performance set a UFC record for a five-round middleweight fight.

59.4: Holland’s percentage of significant hit attempts landing, the best all-time rate among UFC middleweights (minimum five fights and 350 attempts). His challenge this time around will be to find Vettori, whose attacking defense (66.4%) is the best among active UFC fighters at 185 pounds.

8: Holland’s wins since his UFC 2018 debut. That’s the second-most middleweight wins during that time, behind only nine for reigning champion Israel Adesanya. Holland’s five stoppage wins are the most in the division during that span.

6: Vettori’s UFC wins, tying him with Alessio Sakara for an Italian-born fighter.

Fuentes: ESPN Stats & Information y UFC Stats

Five vs. five

Marvin Vettori’s most recent results

Win: Jack Hermansson (UD, December 5, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Karl Roberson (SUM1, June 13, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Andrew Sanchez (UD, October 12, 2019; watch on ESPN +)
Victoria: Cezar Ferreira (DU, 13 de julio, 2019; see by ESPN +)
Loss: Israel Adesanya (SD, April 14, 2018)

Kevin Holland’s most recent results

Loss: Derek Brunson (UD, March 20, 2021; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (KO1, December 12, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Charlie Ontiveros (TKO1, October 31, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Darren Stewart (DD, September 19, 2020; watch on ESPN +)
Win: Joaquin Buckley (TKO3, August 8, 2020; watch on ESPN +)

And the winner is …

“Kevin Holland has a lot to prove, not just to himself, but to his team and his fans,” said UFC men’s bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. “I think he’s going to come out with the mindset to do that. He’s a good puncher; he’ll give Vettori some foot trouble. … Vettori is a better grappler. He’s tough and durable. He outdid Jack Hermansson in grappling when he did. needed [en una victoria por decisión unánime en diciembre], so it will do well in those situations. If he tries to use his punch, I think there is a good chance he will come up short. That could be the difference. “

Read how Sterling and other experts analyze and predict the outcome of Saturday’s fight.

How to watch the fights

See the main billboard on ABC, available by cable / satellite, as well as via streaming.

Watch the preliminaries on ESPN. Don’t have ESPN / ESPN Deportes? Get instant access.

The main card and preliminaries are also available on ESPN Deportes and ESPN +. If you don’t have ESPN +, get it here. Plus: download the ESPN app | WatchESPN | TV

There is also FightCenter, which offers live updates for each UFC card.


The motivations of Mackenzie Dern and Nina Nunes

The fighters meet at UFC Night on April 10.

Saturday’s billboard

ABC / ESPN Sports / ESPN +, 3 pm ET
Marvin Vettori vs. Kevin Holland | Median Weight
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Arnold Allen | Featherweight
Kyle Daukaus vs. Aliaskhab Khizriev | Peso Mediano
Sam Alvey vs. Julian Marquez | Peso Mediano
Nina Ansaroff vs. Mackenzie Dern | Peso Paja
Mike Perry vs. Daniel Rodriguez | Peso Welter
ESPN / ESPN Sports / ESPN +, 12 am ET
Jim Miller vs. Joe Solecki | Ligero weight
Scott Holtzman vs. Mateusz Gamrot |Peso Ligero
Erin Blanchfield vs. Norma Dumont Viana | Bantamweight
John Makdessi vs. Ignacio Bahamondes | Light weight
Yorgan De Castro vs. Jarjis Danho | Heavyweight
Hunter Azure vs. Jack Shore | Peso Gallo
Luis Saldana vs. Jordan Griffin | Featherweight
From Un Jung vs. William Knight | Semipesado weight
ESPN+, 11:30 am ET
Impa Kasanganay Vs. Sasha Palatnikov | Welter weight

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