Marvin Vettori: “I’ll send a message to the whole division, not only with words, but also with facts”
It’s been known rumoured for weeks, now it is official: Marvin Vettori (12-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) will face Omari Akhmedov (17-4, 5-3 UFC) in Las Vegas, news confirmed yesterday by the Italian himself. Vettori will fight in what would be the last UFC event of 2017, UFC 219.
Marvin comes from a good victory and an equally positive performance against the veteran Vitor Miranda (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), at times dominating the match in the striking department, which was supposed to be the strongest part of the Brazilian’s MMA game, having the latter a background in kickboxing and in muay thai.
We’ve contacted Trentino’s own in order to know how he’s preparating for the match, his future plans and those of UFC in Italy.
MMA Today: The match was booked a long time ago, although it was only officially formalized in these hours. This did not prevent you, however, from challenging many fighters in your division. Did you do that because the scheduled match did not satisfy you and you hoped for a more important opponent or you’ve already started looking for your next match?
Marvin Vettori: The match has long been ready, but I always follow the UFC, especially those in my weight division. Just because I have a scheduled match, it doesn’t mean everything else goes to oblivion. I watch all of them, I’ll come for all of them. There will also be time for Thiago Santos and Borrachinha (Paulo Costa). At that moment I will be super-ready and I will KO both of them. It is not that the scheduled match did not satisfy me, it’s just that I wanted to send a message to my division. Borrachinha can pretend he’s not listening, but it will come a time when he cannot pretend anymore.
MT: You will fight in the last UFC event of 2017. Alex Dandi, UFC commentator and consultant in Italy, told us in our recent interview that he does not believe the UFC will come to Italy very soon, almost certainly not in 2018. Do you share his thought or do you see a more rosy future?
MV: Alex Dandi’s predictions are often original. UFC’s arrival in Italy in 2018 is unlikely, but not impossible; it is more likely that it will happen in 2019. It may also happen that I win three in a row and that at the end of 2018 they will organize an event in Italy. If the UFC really wants to do something, it will do it without thinking twice, I notice that from many internal dynamics.
MT: You have recently renewed your contract: during negotiations and after signing, did you feel that UFC management consider you an important athlete in the future of the middleweight division?
MV: The UFC considers me an important fighter, we have just renewed the contract and I’m also happy with the figures. Surely I’ve not yet “broke out”, they see me as a prospect, but I’m still not considered “the next big thing.” Soon they will realize it, though, and I can not wait for it to happen.
MT: What are the main strengths of Omari Akhmedov? What, on the other hand, are his major defects you can exploit for your benefit?
MV: I’ve seen Omari Akhmedov in his last match and I think he is a good person, he is super cool with his opponents. He will spend a bad night in our match; I’m sure I’ll finish him at the end of the first or the beginning of the second round. One of its main strengths is a good double leg, very solid. Also, after having suffered a couple of head shots, he starts swinging with overhands which you have to be careful for, but rarely, almost never, do I eat these blows by a fighter who fights orthodox, being myself a southpaw. Even with Vitor Miranda I never got caught once, I even shook my head because he could never hit me. Omari has many defects, the main one is that he is a fighter that does not evolve. Having said that, I do not underestimate him, I always push myself to the limit, not just for him, but in general to improve myself more and more, to be always ready for more probing challenges. I am, however, very focused on this match; I have studied my opponent well and will continue to study him, I will be very ready for December 30th.
MT: It’s been a while since you’ve been training at Kings MMA. How much do you think you’ve improved during this time?
MV: Yes, it’s been a while I’ve been training here, this is the sixth camp I’m going to prepare at Kings MMA. I did really improve, quite a lot. My striking, now, is on another level, but I’ve also improved in wrestling and in brazilian jiu-jitsu: I’m another athlete. I learn day by day. You will see a clear improvement over my last match.
MT: What are your goals for 2018? Could we see you fight more frequently?
MV: My goal for 2018 is to enter the top 10. I hope, in fact, that I can fight at least 3 times in 2018 and then from there go right up to (conquering) the belt.
MT: Regardless of the outcome of your next match, how do you rate your 2017? How do you see yourself in the end of 2018?
MV: My 2017 was a bit of a transition year, in which I improved so much, I grew up a lot. I won a not easy match against a very solid opponent. As I have always said, he was a beatable opponent, but in terms of “toughness”, Vitor Miranda is second to none, he has a head made of marble. I will finish this 2017 in beauty, winning my next encounter and for 2018, as I said before, I will enter top-10, sending a message to the whole division not only with the words but also with the facts. By the end of 2019, the goal is the title.