From Mezzocorona, to London, to Huntington Beach, back to London: the story of Marvin Vettori

Marvin Vettori
Image Credit: Marvin Vettori's Instagram

Marvin Vettori, “The Italian Dream”, the quintessence of the self-confidence, the only hope for Italian MMA in his own words.

You can tell the Italian is a real one just from looking at the beginning of his professional mixed martial arts career. Fighters usually start their path competing in their own backyards, cutting their teeth in a comfort zone, but that was not the case for Marvin Vettori.

At the age of 18, he left his home in Mezzocorona, a 5,500-soul tiny town, to pursue his dream. His journey began in London, England, where he will compete on March 21 against hometown favorite Darren Stewart.

“I remember that moment of my life very well”, Marvin Vettori told BJPenn.com. “It was a really rough time for me. I was 18 and I moved to London, I didn’t know anyone. I slept on a couch for four months while in the morning I was going around for the city, looking for a job. Then I finally found one, so I started working in the morning and training in the afternoon at the London Shootfighter gym”, the Italian fighter recalls.

He compared his time in London at what the Italians call the “naia”, the mandatory military service.

“That period strengthens me in so many ways. I also had my first professional MMA bouts there, in the Ultimate Challenge MMA promotion. I won my first matches and gained the title shot for the welterweight gold. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring home the belt, but that helped me too. It helped me understand what it takes to be a professional athlete.”

As he recalls, there were very tough moments to deal with as he was alone, away from home, struggling between the sleepless night because of his job as a bouncer and the lessons at the gym, day after day.

“Those weren’t the easiest days, for sure, but every cloud has a silver lining”, states Vettori. “After that [period] no one and nothing can scare me anymore. Thanks to that I understand that nothing can stop me.”

The Kings MMA’s fighter, Marvin Vettori, is now about to make his return to London after seven years from his professional debut, as the UFC makes its return to England on March 21.

“Fighting in London it’s like fighting at home for me. Now everybody knows me there, I have a lot of friends. Until the UFC won’t land in Italy, to fight in London means to fight in my backyard. There will be a big crowd in attendance for me, hoping everyone will be cleared to flight due to the Coronavirus outbreak.”

In London “The Italian Dream” is locking horns with UK’s own Darren Stewart, who is known as “The Dentist”, due to his ability to re-arrange his opponent’s teeth with his fists. His seven professional KO victories prove that nickname is the right one.

“He’s a good striker, he has that KO power, I know that, but my fighting IQ is way better than his. I’m expecting a tough match, but I’m going to dominate him with my intelligence and my skills. He also has a solid chin and cardio, but I’m on another level and I’m going to show that. I hope he’ll give a hard fight because I want to show how much I’m improved. After this win, I’ll have a three-bout winning streak and I already know who I want next.”

Before the fight against Stewart was announced, some fans were expecting a top-15 ranked opponent for Italy’s representative, after his two solid wins on Cezar Ferreira and Andrew Sanchez, but it seems for Marvin Vettori it’s no big deal.

“They didn’t offer any other names besides [Darren] Stewart but it’s ok. I don’t care about making the top-15 list. I care about being number one in the world. And after this win, I know they’re going to give a particular name, one of the best in my category.”

The UFC London show will be headlined by former welterweight title-holder Tyron Woodley who squares off with top contender Leon Edwards.

How do you like Marvin Vettori’s chances to climb up the middleweight division ladder and become one of the best under the 185-pound limit? Drop a comment in the section below, PENN Nation.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/6/2020.