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Welcome to the UFC, Vettori and Vannata

A new welterweight out of Italy is on his way to the UFC alongside a Jackson-Wink lightweight prospect.

Welcome to the UFC

The UFC seems to be on a bit of a June shopping spree. They’ve picked up 14 fighters this month (including TUF 23 finalists so far), a big jump from the rest of 2016, so far. The latest two are jumping in to the welterweight and lightweight divisions, respectively. The UFC has announced the signing of Marvin Vettori, who will face Alberto Uda (himself dropping from middleweight) at UFC 202 on August 20th. Also announced is the signing of Landon Vannata, for a short notice fight against top lightweight contender Tony Ferguson in Sioux Falls on July 13th. So...

Who is Marvin Vettori?

It looks like Venator wasn’t just a jumping off point for Emil Weber Meek. 22-year-old Italian welterweight Vettori also got the biggest win of his career, a first round submission over UFC vet Igor Araujo, taking his MMA record to 10-2 overall. Alongside that win Vettori also has a KO over Jack Mason, for the Venator FC title, giving him a decent run of recent success, especially coupled with a decision over regional prospect Daniele Scatizzi. Vettori has trained at Kings MMA in the US in the past and out of Stable Fight Team in Italy.

What you should expect:

Like a lot of fighters coming off the smaller European scenes, Vettori is at his best when he’s in close on his opponent. At range he’s a pretty wooden striker, tending to rush in, on straight lines, with his chin high, behind a flurry of punches. But, once he’s in the clinch or working on the ground, his game gains instant fluidity. He’s a big powerful athlete, and knows how to do damage from any position he’s in. In the past he’s gotten himself in trouble with a tendency to be over aggressive, giving up grappling positions while hunting for submissions, and pressing forward with less than technical offense, regardless of danger. Still, that makes him exactly the kind of fighter Kings MMA seems to love channeling into top talent. So, if he keeps training there, he could really do well.

What this means for his debut:

This reminds me a lot of Uda’s debut fight against Jake Collier, expect that Vettori is more athletic. Both men like to work in the clinch, but Uda is almost certainly more technical there. Both men also like to work on the ground and are reasonable solid grapplers, Vettori is probably the better wrestler, but Uda is probably the more dangerous guard grappler. Given how Uda crumbled against Collier, I’d probably give the edge to Vettori, but it should be a fun action fight, however long it lasts.

To get us better acquainted, here’s Vettori’s most recent fight against Igor Araujo at Venator FC 3:

Who is Landon Vannata?

The 24-year-old lightweight training out of Jackson-Wink may be one of the better unsung prospects out of the longtime MMA supercamp. Vannata is 8-0 in his career so far, with only one win by decision. His best success to date is probably over fellow prospect Chad Curry, otherwise is record is made up of regional journeymen and cans. He was set to face Raoni Barcelos at RFA 36, but the bout was cancelled after Vannata failed to make weight. Still, following a win over Ramico Blackmon shortly afterward, he’s got his ticket to the UFC. Outside of MMA, Vannata has a background in BJJ and was a strong wrestler at the high school level.

What you should expect:

To say Landon Vannata has a background in BJJ & wrestling is something of a severe misrepresentation of the fighter he is in the cage. Vannata tends toward a very active movement and footwork heavy style when he fights. He prefers to stay at range and find opportunities for dynamic striking entries rather than the relatively static movement of his peers. Because he tends to keep his hands low and rely on head movement and footwork for striking defense, he can get caught coming in, or busted up a bit when he’s caught against the cage. But, he’s largely been technical enough to avoid bad mistakes. Add to that, that his striking is fast, accurate, and fairly diverse, and he’s made himself a very challenging fighter on the feet.

It’s a little tougher to get a grasp on Vannata’s ground game. Obviously with four subs to his name, Vanatta isn’t adverse to grappling, but in his tougher fights he doesn’t seem to have actively pushed for much of it. When he has ended up on the mat, it’s often as a result of stuffing an opponent’s takedown, or getting taken down and having to scramble for positions. He’s a good scrambler and doesn’t look uncomfortable anywhere, but it seems like given then option, he’d rather be striking. It’s also worth noting, other than his third career fight against J.P. Reese he’s rarely had to fight long enough to need to do much more than strike.

What this means for his debut:

While I feel safe in saying Vannata could be a very very good fighter in the UFC in the future, it’s hard not to see him getting worked by Tony Ferguson everywhere. Ferguson is a title contender in one of MMA’s deepest and most difficult divisions. He’s every bit the athlete Vannata is and he’s a better striker and grappler to boot. Hopefully Vannata can just put on a good show even in a likely one-sided loss.

To get us better acquainted, here’s his 2015 bout against Chad Curry at RFA 32:

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