UFC Fight Night 171: Marvin Vettori vs Karl Roberson

This is a big fight right here!

If you aren’t familiar with either fighter, you will be by the end of this article and you’re going to have a valuable pick for Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 171 from Jacksonville.

These two rising stars in the UFC’s Middleweight Division will be kicking off the main card Wednesday. Don’t tune in late! As far as title implications go, this matchup has the most clout.

The main event between Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira is a high-level fight, yes, but both men have been soundly defeated by the champion Jon Jones.

Italy’s Marvin Vettori has been a cash cow for sharp MMA bettors for a couple of years now. He doesn’t have the big name yet so many times he flies under the radar of the casual fan or “action” bettor. At only 26-years-old, Vettori could be a future champion.

Wait, what about a certain Nigerian-born Kiwi that goes by the name of The Last Stylebender?

Current middleweight title-holder Israel Adesanya has fought Marvin Vettori but it was close… It was just over 2 years ago and the young Italian was able to take the future champ to a split decision.

Marvin took Adesanya down twice in that fight and was only out-struck by 10 strikes in what was a low volume fight. The two combined for just over 100 significant strikes landed in the 15-minute battle.

Since then, Vettori has won his next two fights over a couple of strong grapplers in Andrew Sanchez and Cezar Ferreira. He was 2-4 in takedowns and his opponents went 0-7.

Karl Roberson is an up-and-coming athletic striker like Adesanya except he is also versed in submissions, or at least he has proven this to us.

Maybe Izzy can tap Jacare Souza in a grappling match. I don’t know. Yes, I do. Adesanya does have a hole in his game, albeit a small one. We know Marvin Vettori or even Roberson, perhaps, would match up well against the champ.

Karl Roberson got his start with the promotion on Dana White’s Contender Series. He fought Ryan Spann, one of the winners from UFC 249 this past Saturday.

This one was over as fast as it started. Spann shot in and as Karl Roberson defended, he also found time to smash Ryan with a couple of elbows and that was it!

He then fought scary British striker Darren The Dentist Stewart and quickly dispatched him in the first round by “Mata Leao” aka the lion kill also known as the rear naked choke.

Karl has been very impressive thus far in his young UFC career but has been tapped out due to arm triangle by both Glover Teixeira and Cezar Ferreira.

Sportbet.com has the most valuable odds for our prediction in this fight. Let’s break down these two guys a bit further and make our prediction for Wednesday night’s middleweight scrap.

Marvin Vettori (-172) vs Karl Roberson (+158)

Marvin is a grappler with very good takedowns and an excellent top game. He loves to pressure his opponents when the fight is standing. This works very well against counter strikers who might not have knockout power.

Enter Karl Roberson. He’s a solid kickboxer with decent takedown defense and isn’t afraid to go for the choke or finish with elbows when his opponents are attempting to take him down to the mat.

Both men are southpaws. When I see two lefties matchup up, I like to research how each man deals with the situation.

If Karl threw more combinations with his striking, I think it might be enough to keep the Italian’s forward pressure under control.

Roberson likes to kick and “naked” kicks are not advisable, especially against a front foot fighter like Vettori.

On paper, guys, Karl is the better striker. He doesn’t have a reach advantage, though, here. Actually, neither man does. They line up with each other perfectly.

If Marvin is able to get a couple of takedowns, I think he will mostly cruise to a win. Karl has been taken down in the past by grapplers who don’t have the same level of top game as Marvin. It’s going to be a fun fight, for sure.

I just see Vettori’s pressure, grappling advantage, and higher fight IQ giving him the edge in this one.

The most likely outcome here is Marvin Vettori to win on the judges’ scorecards but at just (+140), I don’t think it is THAT much more valuable than the (-172) we are getting to simply win.

My Pick

In Conclusion

The winner of this fight is going to be ranked in the top 10.

Honestly, I don’t know how Marvin Vettori isn’t already. He nearly defeated the champion. No one else inside the top ten can say that besides maybe Kelvin Gastelum but he was still finished.

Karl Roberson does present some stylistic challenges for Marvin. He is the far better kicker. How many of those kicks is he willing to throw against a fighter with such strong takedowns and intimidating top game on the mat.

If you’re good, you can effectively punch while moving backward but kicking, not so much. You have to balance on one leg and not only is it difficult to pull off but you can be countered hard with punches as forward movement is generally faster than backward.

Couple that with your back eventually touching the cage and then your kick, if you’re able to throw it, has about the same range as your opponent’s punch. Bad combination.

Karl has those elbows he throws while defending takedowns. There is the possibility that he hurts Marvin with a few of those but the Italian superstar is well aware of what’s coming and as smart as he fights, should be able to avoid them.

Get your bets in now, guys, and enjoy the fights this Wednesday night!

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.