13 Jun 2021

Israel Adesanya dominant in UFC title defence

5:36 pm on 13 June 2021

Israel Adesanya is still the UFC middleweight champion of the world.

Israel Adesanya of New Zealand during UFC 243


The New Zealand mixed martial arts star retained his belt with a clinical unanimous decision win over Italian challenger Marvin Vettori in Arizona on Sunday.

Coming off the first loss of his pro MMA career, an unsuccessful bid to claim a second title against light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz in March, Adesanya was at his stylish best at UFC 263.

The 31-year-old won all five rounds on all three judges scorecards to clinch a third defence of the middleweight title and extend his overall record to 21-1.

The result was expected to set up a rematch with Kiwi-born Australian Robert Whittaker, who Adesanya defeated by TKO in October, 2019 to become world champion.

Earlier, team-mate Brad Riddell was also victorious and joined Adesanya in dedicating his win to fallen team-mate Fau Vake.

New Zealand UFC lightweight Brad Riddell.

New Zealand UFC lightweight Brad Riddell. Photo: Photosport

Staggered early in the opening round, the Cantabrian recovered impressively to continuing his unbeaten run in the lightweight division with earn an entertaining unanimous points win over American Drew Dober.

The win took Riddell to 4-0 in the UFC, stretched his winning streak to seven and extended his overall record to 10-1.

Speaking inside the octagon immediately after the fight, Riddell said his performance had been motivated by the memory of his team-mate at at Auckland's City Kickboxing.

Vake died last month after a week in Auckland Hospital following an alleged assault in central Auckland.

"I was never gonna lose this fight. I had a driving force that was bigger than me and I'm very, very grateful that I still get a walk on this planet.

Fau Vake

Fau Vake Photo: Instagram / Fau Vake

"That walkout song might have seemed a little bit weird but that was [Fau's] walkout song so that was my tribute to his family.

"Unfortunately, he'll never get to make this walk. I miss you Fau, and I hope you're proud."

Four men appeared in Auckland District Court on Tuesday, with a 29-year-old charged with Vake's manslaughter.

Three other men, two 29-year-olds and one 32-year-old, also received assault charges. All four men were remanded without plea.

With Dober ranked 13th heading into the bout, Riddell was expected to move inside the division's top 15 rankings for the first time.