UFC middleweight contender Marvin Vettori believes there’s one significant factor that separates him from upcoming opponent Robert Whittaker.
Today, September 3, 2022, the MMA leader will host its first event in France. The card’s co-main event is a worthy bout for the occasion, and even worthy of rivalling the headliner between Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa when it comes to intrigue and name value.
Setting the table for the heavyweights will be former middleweight champion Whittaker and fellow current top-five contender Vettori. Having both suffered a pair of losses to reigning titleholder Israel Adesanya, they’ll look to stake their claim to a third crack at adding the first blemish to the Nigerian-New Zealander’s 185-pound record with a win in Paris.
Per the current odds on BetOnline.ag, Whittaker sits as a -211 favorite, with Vettori the +181 underdog. That balance perhaps represents the sentiment of many in the MMA community, who witnessed “The Reaper” look near-perfect in the three fights he won in-between collisions with Adesanya.
Despite those odds, Vettori’s confidence is unwavering, with the #2-ranked contender expecting to make the short trip back to Italy with a statement win added to his résumé.
Vettori: ‘I Keep Improving, Whittaker Doesn’t’
During UFC Paris media day on Wednesday, Vettori was asked to assess Whittaker as an opponent and the kind of threat that the Australian brings to the cage.
While he insisted that he won’t be underestimating the former champ come fight night, “The Italian Dream” appeared dismissive of any progress made by Whittaker in recent times. With that said, Vettori named their trajectories as the main difference heading into today’s contest.
“He’s definitely an experienced opponent, but I feel very, very confident,” Vettori said. “I’m not underestimating him, but I have a few aces up the sleeve that he’s not gonna know that I have. He’s definitely very good, but with that being said, he’s the same fighter that he always was. (Same fighter he was) a year ago, same fighter he was in his last fight; I’m not.
“I keep improving. I’m more hungry. I’m on my way up, I don’t believe he is. That’s the biggest difference there… He’s a great fighter, but the hunger is different. Like I said, I’m on my way up, he’s not; that’s it,” Vettori concluded.
Vettori will be looking to put his money where his mouth his when he goes toe-to-toe with Whittaker inside Paris’ Accor Arena. Perhaps if he’s successful, he’ll look to convince the promotion to bring the Octagon to Italian soil next.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC Paris, Marvin Vettori or Robert Whittaker?