It was originally intended for former champ Robert Whittaker who, since losing his belt to Adesanya, has beaten top contenders Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and most recently Kelvin Gastelum in April.
But with Adesanya (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) wanting to compete in June, Whittaker wasn’t ready for a quick turnaround. So Vettori wound up getting the title shot, and the pair will rematch next week in the main event of UFC 263 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz.
“This fight’s happening because of Israel, not because of Marvin and Marvin getting himself to a certain position.” Bareman told Submission Radio. “His last fight, I know that the people in charge, the people that push the buttons in the UFC were not happy with his last fight. And that’s how the way the UFC is. They don’t want to see someone just lie around and hug someone. They want to advance people that excite them and excite the crowd, and Marvin didn’t do that. Nevertheless, another person, just like Romero, just because of the good grace of Israel, gets the pink panty night.”
He continued, “Look, there’s two panty nights in the UFC. One is red, and that’s Conor’s. And the other panty night is pink, and that’s Israel’s. And there’s two big paydays in this organization, and it’s one of those two guys. Red panty night and pink panty night.”
Vettori (17-4-1 MMA, 7-2-1 UFC), who’s won his past five in a row, hasn’t lost since dropping a split decision to Adesanya in 2018. Although Adesanya outstruck Vettori in the first two rounds, Vettori was able to take Adesanya down and keep him on the mat in the final round.
But Bareman says Adesanya is motivated to leave no doubt this time around by scoring a more clear-cut victory.
“I know Israel would like to be more clinical with this win and make it a lot more definitive,” Bareman said. “So, that’s the motivation factor. But one of the things we always emphasize in this gym, is you have to love what you do. The only way to be successful in this sport is just to absolutely be obsessed and love fighting. And that’s what Israel is. And he just wants to fight. And sometimes you don’t get the ideal scenario that you need to fight.
“But sometimes you just love fighting so much that you just want to do it. And it doesn’t need to be too much motivation behind it. It just needs to be an understanding that we’re not around forever. Case in point, our friend (Fau Vake). Life is frail. The frailty of life is amazing. Like, you can be here one minute and gone the next. And if we’re able to do something and enjoy it while we’re still here and breathing, then maybe we should just do it. And that’s what it’s about.”
Bareman knows that Vettori will likely look at Adesanya’s loss to UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz as a blueprint to win the fight, but he just doesn’t think Vettori poses the same skillet.
“Yeah, I mean, we’re prepared for that,” Bareman said. “I mean, you’ve got to understand that Marvin has taken Israel down before, and Israel clearly won that fight where Marvin took him down. Will Marvin be able to do the things that Jan did because we haven’t addressed them? Ask yourself that question.
“Is Marvin as good as Jan, the light heavyweight champion of the world? Ask yourself that question. It’s an interesting game of thought, because he’s from a very good team and a very good coach and some very good coaching staff and training partners. And we enjoy a good battle with those guys. So we’re prepared, and we’re looking forward to it.”