The two top prospects were initially supposed to fight at UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Teixera card on May 14th. Unfortunately, Karl Roberson withdrew from the fight after an unsuccessful weight cut, which brought quite the reaction from Vettori, who claimed that Karl Roberson just “gave up”. The Italian Dream initiated a confrontation, not only at the weigh-in faceoff, but also in the hotel.
A fight where opponents are not only fighting to get a result, but also really don’t like each other, has proven time and time again to bring the best promotional material. The UFC promoting such a fight is consistent with the past practice. Unsurprisingly, UFC bumped the fight, to a co-main event on June 14th at the UFC Apex.
Lets take a look at these athletes individually and how they match up against each other.
Karl “Baby K” Roberson (MMA Record: 9-2, 4-2 in the UFC)
Karl Roberson first made his presence known to the UFC fanbase on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. A 15-second TKO victory over Ryan Spann, another UFC prospect, did the job and earned him a UFC contract.
In short, he has a piston of a left cross, heavy hands, great stand-up, and the heart of a hungry lion. He came in as a kickboxer, but he is always looking to prove himself as a well-rounded mixed martial artist. Half of his wins have been signed off with a rear-naked choke, proving just that. Even when he is winning on the feet, he is not one to shy away from clinching or pouring on hammers inside the guard of a BJJ black belt.
So far, he has been doing all the right things, an aspiring UFC athlete, with his background, should do. Training and working heavily on his wrestling with none other than Corey Anderson himself. He has been active, showing up on fight night 6 times in two years. He picked up the phone when called upon by Dana White and he took a short-notice fight, a division up, against a 7th-degree black belt in BJJ – Glover Teixeira. That is a scary proposition!
He did lose the fight, but his stock didn’t go down that night. In fact, he almost finished Glover when he hurt him early in the first. Nevertheless, the veteran managed to weather the storm and plow on. The contest ended with Glover securing a head and arm choke late in the first round. Karl bounced back with two impressive wins over young, up-and-coming talents and now looks to make some people anxious at the top of the division.
Marvin “The Italian Dream” Vettori (MMA Record: 14-4-1, 4-2-1 in the UFC)
The proud representative of Italy is carrying a nation on his shoulders every time he steps in the octagon. He is one of the very few Italians to compete in the UFC.
Unlike Karl Roberson, Marvin Vettori has already experienced the top of the Middleweight division. He fought Israel Adesanya when he was just a prospect. The fight was a scrappy one. Both men had their moments, but Israel made Marvin miss and made him pay. It was a split decision loss for Vettori, but he can definitely gain confidence from that. He even earned a compliment from Stylebender who acknowledged Marvin’s good head movement in his post-fight interview. Since then, Vettori has looked better and better, winning 2 clear unanimous decisions in a row. Vettori is looking lighter on his feet, more confident, and has a swagger, which we hadn’t seen from him previously. In short, Marvin Vettori is one tough customer, very good on the feet, granite chin, and has ever-improving cardio.
How Will the Fight Play Out on June 14th?
Both like to strike, both are hard to put away, both are southpaws, both are hungry with a point to prove! Karl and Marvin are very similar in a ton of ways, but the grappling might make the difference. Karl has a tendency to put himself in harm’s way when he is on his back. On the two occasions he was submitted, it seemed so that he did not see the sub coming or didn’t know how to defend it. The fact that there was a BJJ black belt on top of him also “might” have a part to play here. I believe the coaches at KINGS MMA (Vettori’s camp) will definitely look at that and work on submissions from top position.
There is one more piece of trivia that will serve as a confidence boost for Vettori. A year after Karl Roberson lost to Cezar Ferreira, Marvin won against the later with an impressive performance. Not that MMA math ever works, but still… worth a mention.
Without a doubt, this is their time to shine! Both really need to push on and get a winning streak going! Their efforts will not go unnoticed as the UFC is still the only active major sport, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans will be watching each and every piece of the action they can get their eyes on!
Thanks to Dana White, these two have the opportunity to grab all the clout they can expect from a UFC Fight Night. Now it’s up to them to put on a performance of a lifetime.
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