UFC 263: Israel Adesanya completes title defence against Marvin Vettori, calls out Robert Whittaker for Auckland rematch

Israel Adesanya is eyeing a rematch with Robert Whittaker in Auckland after a near-flawless performance against challenger Marvin Vettori at UFC 263.

The middleweight champion produced a five-round shut-out victory over the 'Italian Dream' on Sunday, with all three judges giving him a perfect 50-45 scoreline.

The bout served as the main event of UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona with 'The Last Stylebender' proving that he is still the top middleweight in the world.

Adesanya proving that he is still the top middleweight in the world.

Marvin Vettori and Israel Adesanya
Marvin Vettori and Israel Adesanya Photo credit: Getty Images

Following the bout, Adesanya gave a heartfelt tribute to his fallen friend Fau Vake, dedicating the victory to the 25-year-old who lost his life after an alleged assault in Auckland last month. 

"This is for Fau Vake and his family," Adesanya said. "Fau Vake, Fau Vake, Fau Vake… I love you." 

The 29-year-old then called for a second fight against the Australian former champion, who Adesanya beat to claim the title in 2019. 

Whittaker was initially offered the rematch for this weekend, but wanted a longer break between fights and Vettori stepped in.

UFC president Dana White confirmed this week that 'Bobby Knuckles' is next in line and Adesanya wants the fight to take place in his home city.

"I don't know what will happen with all this COVID shit, but if he wants to run that back, we will do it in Auckland - my territory," Adesanya told UFC commentator Joe Rogan.

"And ill decide when and where, not you. 

"Do you know why? Because I'm the mother f***ing king of this place."

Following the bout, White told media that taking a  fight night to New Zealand or Australia is highly unlikely given quarintine issues.

Adesanya dominated Vettori throughout the 25 minutes showing improved takedown defence and excellent grappling, reversing several bad positions when the fight hit the floor.

The Kiwi-Nigerian picked apart the challenger on the feet and was barely touched despite an aggressive gameplan from Vettori.

The bout with Whittaker will arguably be the biggest title fight in middleweight history if it does take place, rivalling the great Anderson Silva's rematch with Chael Sonnen a decade ago. 

Earlier, Adesanya's City Kickboxing teammate Brad Riddell scored the biggest win of his blossoming career, earning over tough American striker Drew Dober.

Riddell turned around a shaky start when he was dropped early in the first round, to overrun Dober and should find himself in the lightweight rankings next week.

UFC 263: Israel Adesanya completes title defence against Marvin Vettori, calls out Robert Whittaker for Auckland rematch

Following the fight, Riddell also paid tribute to Vake. 

"My friend got murdered two weeks ago, so I was never going to lose this fight," Riddell says. "I had a driving force that was bigger than me and I'm very, very grateful that 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 again but I miss you Fau and I hope you're proud."

Vake sustained critical injuries in the alleged assault and died following a week at Auckland Hospital. 

Riddell and Dober each won a bonus of US$50,000 after beig awarded Fight of the Night by the UFC brass. 

Flyweight Brandon Moreno created UFC history in the co-main event, submitting champion Deiveson Figueiredo in the third round.

The bout was a rematch from a 2020 fight of the year candidate when two fought to a majority draw.

Moreno looked sublime in putting away the Brazilian who had only lost once in nine years.

Moreno is the first Mexican-born champion in UFC history.

Earlier fan favourite Nate Diaz's late rally wasn't enough to prevent welterweight title contender Leon Edwards from securing a 49-46 unanimous decision victory.

Diaz was outclassed through the first four rounds, but rocked Edwards late in the final frame but couldn't finish the durable Englishman.