Marvin Vettori knows he lost his cool.
The Italian middleweight was already anxious after having his March fight scrapped when UFC London was cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic but then two months later he had another matchup fall apart just hours before he was supposed to compete.
Following a tough weight cut that saw him miss the mark on the scale, Karl Roberson was pulled from their fight at UFC Jacksonville after he ended up in the hospital the night before the event. When Vettori ran into him at the host hotel after getting word that their fight was cancelled, he confronted Roberson as a heated war of words erupted with security eventually breaking up the incident.
Looking back now, Vettori doesn’t exactly regret the altercation but despite Roberson’s claims that it was all a set-up, 26-year-old veteran was just genuinely angry about the whole situation.
“You’re gonna f*ck with me, you’re gonna pull out the day of [the fight], you’re going to get a reaction,” Vettori told MMA Fighting on Thursday during the UFC on ESPN 10 virtual media day. “If I see you, you’re going to get a reaction. I’m not going to just shut up. I don’t regret doing that, especially when he squared up on me and stuff like that.
“I wanted to do that with Andrew Sanchez last time when he pulled out three days before the fight but I didn’t get to see him in the lobby. This happened many times but not so many [on the day of the fight]. No, he pulled out the day of [the fight] and I got to see him, which was great. I just flipped.”
Considering what happened the last time around, Vettori says he did have some hesitation accepting a fight against Roberson again no matter how much he wanted to settle their grudge.
“I did have some concerns in the beginning because I’m like he didn’t make weight, he was claiming to be so unwell a month ago, didn’t make weight with all the time that he had,” Vettori said. “What is going to change in a month?
“But we make it this far, he better step into the cage Saturday. He’s here. I f*cking hope the guy’s going to show up.”
The emotional element in this fight certainly raises the stakes but don’t expect Vettori to just meet Roberson in the middle of the octagon and start swinging fists until one of them falls over.
As much as he wants payback for Roberson pulling out of their previously scheduled fight, Vettori knows a win is the only thing that really matters come Saturday night.
“I’ll feed on emotion, hell yeah. But there’s different ways of feeding,” Vettori said. “I know I can dig deeper and in hard times I’ll have that on my back. It’s almost like I see it as put it on the side, ready to be fired up at the right time. Like I said before, the worst thing I can do to him is beat him up as bad as I can in a dominant fashion or stopping him.
“I go out and I go f*cking swinging like I forget all my technique and I just give him a chance? And then what? I put up a bad performance? What did I do to him? Nothing. I’m smarter than that. I’m not stupid.”
For all the bad blood between them, Vettori can’t predict what will happen when he locks eyes with Roberson during Friday’s weigh-ins but real vengeance will be dished out when they finally meet in the cage.
“I’m going to make him pay,” Vettori said. “That’s all it is. I’m going to make him pay. I take the fact that he messed with my life, with my coach’s life, with my team life, for months of life kind of personal.
“But at the end of the day, the worst thing that I can do to him is beat him in a dominant fashion and finish him so that’s what I will do.”