Dubai: Marvin Vettori eared his spot in the main event at UFC Vegas 19 on Saturday night as a third replacement but boy did he grab the opportunity to pound a bruising unanimous decision victory over Jack Hermansson and then gave a big shout out to the people in Italy.
“For all the Italians struggling, this was very important for me,” Vettori said in his post-fight interview having impressed all three ringside judges with his superior striking with a tenacious opponent. “I made a boxing fight, which I wanted to do. I knew I had an advantage there,” added Vettori who said his dream is to become the UFC’s first Italian champion.
Right from the first bell Vettori (16-3-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) showed that he was fully prepared despite taking the fight against Hermansson (21-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) at short notice and was finding a home with straight lefts.
Hermansson showcased his all-round game landing powerful right hands and body kicks but it was Vettori who pushed forward landing a barrage of punches, one of which dropped Hermansson.
For the remainder of the five-round contest the two fighters would trade big punches and kicks but it was the Italian who had the upper hand in most of the exchanges which caught the attention of the judges.
“I feel like I could do much better but man this guy was tough. I thought I would finish him but he came back. Today, I was stronger, man,” said Vettori, whose native Italy was among the first countries to feel the force of the deadly coronavirus in the spring.
Meanwhile in the co-main event, rising star Jamahal Hill scored the biggest win of his career when stopping veteran Ovince Saint Preux at the 3:37 mark of Round 2.
The 29-year-old Hill (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) looked the more well-rounded fighter to the in and out game of Saint Preux (25-15 MMA, 13-10 UFC).
With this result, Hill remained undefeated in his MMA career and is 3-0 since joining the UFC after earning a contract on Dana White Contender Series in 2019.
Middleweight: Marvin Vettori def. Jack Hermansson via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-45)
Light-heavyweight: Jamahal Hill def. Ovince Saint Preux via TKO — Round 2, 3:37
Featherweight: Gabriel Benitez def. Justin Jaynes via TKO — Round 1, 4:06
Light-heavyweight: Roman Dolidze def. John Allan via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Lightweight: Jordan Leavitt def. Matt Wiman via knockout — Round 1, 0:22
Bantamweight: Louis Smolka def. Jose Quinonez via TKO — Round 2, 2:15
Featherweight: Ilia Topuria def. Damon Jackson via knockout — Round 1, 2:38
Heavyweight: Jake Collier def. Gian Villante via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)