Marvin Vettori takes out his frustrations on Karl Roberson with first-round submission

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Marvin Vettori celebrates after his submission victory over Karl Roberson in their middleweight fight during UFC Fight Night at UFC Apex on June 13, 2020 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Marvin Vettori proved to be a man of his word on Saturday. The UFC middleweight was frustrated and angered by his opponent’s failure to make weight twice in less than a month, and vowed to take it out on Karl Roberson.

Vettori scored the biggest win of his career and extended his winning streak to three bouts when he caught Roberson in a rear naked choke and submitted him at 4:17 of the first round.

Vettori’s frustrations began in March, he flew from Los Angeles to London in anticipation of a fight there. But upon arriving in England, he learned the bout was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

He then signed to fight Roberson on May 13 in Jacksonville, Florida. Roberson missed weight there and was pulled from the card for medical reasons related to his weight cut. After the weigh-in, the two ran into each other in the hotel and had to be separated by security.

Vettori’s ire was raised even more on Friday when Roberson weighed 190.5, 4.5 pounds over the middleweight limit of 186. 

He got the measure of revenge he was looking for by performing superbly and catching Roberson with the choke. A brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Vettori took Roberson down and methodically worked his way into position for the finishing choke. When he got the arm under the chin, Roberson tapped almost immediately.

“This was six months of hard work,” Vettori said. “I couldn’t even have a beer since January. I just tried so hard and this was my reward. I was so hyped up before the fight that I wanted to cry because this is what I love to do. I just wanted to fight. I’m on a mission and wanted to keep going. I showed up and did my job. That’s what it’s all about, being professional.

“I’m ready all the time. When he said he thinks his grappling is better, I knew he was saying that to scare me from taking him down. But I knew my grappling was better. I’m the best in the world.”

In the main event, Cynthia Calvillo scored an impressive victory in her flyweight debut, defeating No. 1 Jessica Eye via unanimous decision. Calvillo won by scores of 49-46 twice and 48-47.

She did it mainly on the strength of her grappling. She had a 4-0 edge in takedowns and a 7:46 to 0:00 edge in ground control. But she also outstruck Eye considerably, landing 137 significant strikes to Eye’s 97.

Eye had a big size advantage, as she had fought previously at bantamweight, but it didn’t appear Calvillo had any issues with her size.

“I felt great,” she said. “I didn’t feel depleted or small like I do at strawweight, where I feel so much smaller.”

The opening three fights each ended in finishes in less than a minute. Christian Aguilera opened things with a 59-second stoppage of Anthony Ivy. The next fight lasted only 32 seconds when Tyson Nam drilled Zarrukh Adashev with a right hand. Adashev dropped and Nam landed another right that ended it.

Julia Avila made it three first-round finishes in less than a minute when she stopped Gina Mazany in 22 seconds. It was the fourth fastest bout in UFC women’s history.

“I knew I hurt her with the knee up the middle,” Avila said. “I saw my prey and went in for the kill. My right cross is nothing to mess with. When I felt it land, I heard my corner say, ‘Attack.’ 

“I think the division has known about me. I’m that annoying fly in the background, but now I’m starting to make a couple of waves. They’re starting to see what I’m capable of. I still have a lot to show. I have earn my stripes. I look forward to that journey.”

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