Marvin Vettori and Andrew Sanchez will finally get the opportunity to put their hands on one another this weekend in Tampa on the preliminary card after their original bout was nixed last month.
The pair were scheduled to face off at UFC Vancouver on September 14th before an eye infection meant that Sanchez had to withdraw from the contest. This left Vettori (13-4-1) feeling frustrated and he accused the TUF winner of being scared to step inside the cage with him. Sanchez (11-4) hit back and accused Vettori of being a ‘juicehead’ and claimed he was angry that the fight was postponed because it would have thrown ‘his cycle’ off of schedule. Although Vettori acknowledged that those comments annoyed him, he knows he will channel them in a positive way when the fight starts on Saturday.
“The delay in waiting for this fight to happen hasn’t throw me off,” said Vettori. “Obviously it was upsetting at first but I’m at the highest level of what I do. I just took a day to reset and then I realised that I would get the same result but just at a different time. I’m actually more ready now and feel even better going into this fight than before. He’s going to pay for this and for all the s—t he’s been talking. He doesn’t even know what he’s talking about and he’s just saying things to try and make me angry. I know how to channel that anger in the correct way and I will. I’ve never juiced in my whole life and I’m against that. I will never do that and never did do that. It was just a really unfortunate situation (with USADA) and he doesn’t know s—t about it. He will pay!”
“I definitely can finish Sanchez in so many different ways,” continued Vettori. “I can knock him out, submit him and I can break him. I’m capable of just making him quit. Under the pressure, he will give me something and I will capitalise on that. I’m really looking forward to finishing this fight.”
The USADA situation that Sanchez was alluding to occurred after an out-of-competition drug test in August of last year. Vettori was handed a six-month retroactive ban but USADA made it clear that there was ‘no evidence of intentional use’. After sitting out waiting to be eligible to compete again, the 26-year-old defeated Cezar Ferreira in July which he admitted was a relief after his suspension. However, fighters often talk about how the real improvements are made outside of camp so the Italian took full advantage of his focus being totally on himself.
“That year improved me as a fighter,” stated Vettori. “If you’re mature and smart enough to understand the situations you are placed in, you can turn a problem into your favour most of the time. I made sure that even though I couldn’t fight, I made every day count on my journey to be back. I handled everything in the right way.”
Vettori recently signed a new contract with the UFC which he is really pleased about and he intends to stay with the promotion for a very long time. The middleweight has complete confidence in his own ability and is pleased that he is on the right path to the top although he is aware that he is still towards the start of that journey. Vettori arguably gave newly-crowned champion, Israel Adesanya, the toughest fight of his UFC career when they fought to a split decision last April. He believes that many are overlooking him in the division but is looking forward to making people realise that he is among the best at middleweight.
“This will be my seventh fight and I think I’ve fought a lot of good guys,” explained Vettori. “I’ve never taken an easy fight. It’s been a good learning process and now I’m ready to really do some damage. I’m ready to shock my division and climb up the rankings. I really believe this deeply. It’s only a matter of time. I still feel like I am very far from my peak but even now, I believe that I am at a really high level in the sport. I think that I am one of the best in my division and I’m going to prove that very soon.”
UFC Fight Night: Jedrzejczyk v Waterson prelims will be shown at 10pm BST on BT Sport 2 in the UK and Ireland while fans in America can tune in on ESPN+ at 5pmET/4c.