UFC 263: Kiwi Israel Adesanya, Marvin Vettori in heated altercation, as main event looms

Kiwi UFC star Israel Adesanya has set the stage for his middleweight title defence on Sunday (NZ time) with a series of fiery exchanges with opponent Marvin Vettori.

On Friday, the two appeared at the official UFC 263 press conference, just two days out from their main event rematch in Glendale, Arizona.

'The Last Stylebender' and Vettori ramped up their war of words to a physical altercation, with the Italian hurling his drink bottle at the laughing Kiwi-Nigerian.

"I'm your nightmare, Izzy," Vettori screamed, as he jumped to his feet. 

"That's called roid rage, that isn't caffeine," Adesanya responded.

Sunday's bout will be Adesanya's first since his unsuccessful bid at the light-heavyweight championship against Jan Blachowicz in March, returning to middleweight, where he's still yet to taste defeat.

Adesanya was barely able to respond to questions, as Vettori continually interrupted with barbs, insisting he won their first fight in the same city three years ago.

"I have the advantage, because I'm the superhero fighter," Vettori yelled, as he was roundly booed by attending fans. "He doesn't have the answer for what I bring to the table."

The judges awarded the previous fight to Adesanya in a split decision, with the Kiwi dominating the opening two rounds, before Vettori had some success on the mat in the third, albeit with minimal damage inflicted.

"This weekend, you won't need the judges," Adesanya told Vettori. "You're going to be sniffing the floor.

"I remember the magic that was in the air when I put this guy away. Wait until [Sunday], I'm going to use this energy."

Top contender Robert Whittaker's decision to recover from his last bout handed Vettori the chance to challenge Adesanya for his belt, despite defeating just one opponent ranked in the top 10.

"Since we last fought, you can look at the stack of people he's fought and people I've fought, and there's a vast difference," notes Adesanya.

"The only reason he's here is he beat the No. 10 guy. I'm going to treat you like [Paulo] Costa."

The 31-year-old also took aim at Vettori's positive test for a banned substance immediately after their April 2018 bout.

"I'm not vegan, I like that beef," Adesnanya jibes. "His beef is already steroided up, he's eating that horsemeat," 

"Show him that picture of the Goonies again. You look like the orc from Lord of the Rings!"

To round out the conference, the pair squared off on stage, Adesanya removing his shirt as Vettori pressed forward, while UFC president Dana White kept them separated.

Kiwi Brad Riddell also features on Sunday's card, when he takes on Drew Dober in the preliminary card headliner.

Join us from 1pm Sunday, for live updates of UFC 263: Adesanya v Vettori