Danny Armstrong is a Moscow-based British journalist, reporter and presenter for RT Sport. Follow him on Twitter @DannyWArmstrong
UFC middleweight Marvin Vettori has admonished division king Israel Adesanya, vowing to put the “undeserved hype and bullshit” surrounding his name out for good before finally taking aim at ‘Stylebender’s’ dress sense.
Their feud stems from when Vettori lost a split decision to Adesanya in 2018, in doing so coming the closest to beating the 31-year-old in professional MMA of any fighter until the latter’s loss to light heavyweight ruler Jan Blachowicz in a failed bid to become a two-weight champion.
Vettori was due to headline UFC Fight Night against Darren Till on April 10, until a broken collarbone ruled the Englishman out of that Las Vegas date – and in stepped ‘Big Mouth’ Kevin Holland to fill the void left by the one-time welterweight title challenger.
In an interview with RT Sport over Whatsapp, Vettori insisted he has no trouble with the change of opponent, discussed his pride in his roots in native Mezzocorona and why “overrated” Adesanya reminds him of a middle school teenager.
You want to ‘derail the Adesanya hype train for good’. Do you think Adesanya is all hype or is that something you said in the spur of the moment?
I think Adesanya is very overrated. That’s what I think. It’s my job to put him out for good and derail the hype train. There’s all this hype and b*llshit that they put around his name, that I don’t think he deserves so that’s what I meant when I said it.
Adesanya is the stylebender but you are undoubtedly a man of style. We’ve seen your Stone Island jackets with fur trim. You have your own fashion brand. Are you the most stylish man in the UFC?
I’m a believer of ‘look good, feel good and fight good’, you know. So I definitely think that I like to dress well and I like wearing nice stuff. Definitely. And there are very few people who can dress. Actually, very few can dress properly in the UFC.
And one of the ones that cannot dress is Adesanya! He dresses like a teenager, like a middle school guy, not even high school. Every time I see this guy I think, ‘what the f*ck is he doing!?’ But yeah man, you know, its definitely important to look good when you have an occasion to show up to.
Kevin Holland is a very different fighter to Darren Till. Does that matter, or are you ready for anyone in the top 10?
Yeah, Kevin Holland and Darren Till, they’re a little bit different. But at the end of the day, when I’m ready there’s nothing that they can do. I really believe that I’m superior in every fight. Wherever the fight takes place I have the advantage and so, you know, the game plan is also the same. Go out, put on the best performance, put out the best version of myself and smash them. So it doesn’t make much of a difference to me.
Kevin is one crazy guy to get ready for. Are you ready for his tactics of talking during the fight and have you thought of what your responses will be?
Kevin is a little bit wild. But I don’t think there’s gonna be much talking to me in the fight with me because he’ll be worried about the fight. And if he does talk, no problem. No problem. I’m just gonna think of putting on my game and he can talk as much as he wants.
You’ve lived a really nomadic lifestyle as a fighter. You began training in Italy before moving to London as a teenager and then to the US as a young man to train at Kings MMA. Has that lifestyle, where you’ve been forced to adapt, given you an extra edge?
Yeah – I always said I always had to work to get the work. And I will never forget that. I had to do things that people can’t even imagine to get where I’m at. I’m a different animal because of this in that cage, you know.
And so yeah, I definitely think it gave me an extra edge, extra motivation. I know where I come from and I know where I’m at right now and I know what I have to go through and I will never forget it.
And even here, you know, I’m here – I say this but I’m really about it: I’m on a mission. I’m here for this. I’m here to become number one in the world. I’m not here for any other reason. I’m not really here for any other reason.
Your Instagram is filled with the scenery and architecture of Mezzocorona and people crouched around cafes in the streets. You seem to want to be at one with the land and people of your nation as much as possible and seem to carry that pride into the octagon.
Yeah, for sure. I know where I come from. I know my roots and that’s where I belong. So of course, like I said before, I’m here for a reason and I’ll do my best. I want to become number one in what I do. But obviously I love my place back home and I miss it a lot. For sure, every time we have an occasion I will enjoy life in those places back home.
What are we going to see from you on April 10?
On April 10th you guys are gonna see a demolition. You’re gonna see the crushing of another fighter in that cage by Marvin Vettori.