Although he only made his UFC debut earlier this month, striking dynamo Israel Adesanya is already a hot prospect glowing on the UFC’s radar and is sure to have caught the attention of his fellow middleweights.
Adesanya, a former kickboxing champion, put on a flashy striking display against Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221 before finishing the Australian with a barrage of knees and punches in the second round, earning a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus and impressing scores of fans at the Perth Arena in Australia.
If he keeps it up, ‘Style Bender’ foresees an inevitable title shot against current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in 2019, telling MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that he gets ‘chills’ just thinking about it.
“Probably next year; I feel it will be the end of next year,” Adesanya told Helwani on a recent edition of The MMA Hour when asked when he would fight for the title (h/t Peter Carroll of MMA Fighting).
“I don’t know why, but I feel it will be me, and if Robert can hold onto the belt it will be me and him (at) Spark Arena. I’m even getting chills right now when I say it. Yeah, I’ve seen it and I can see it happening by the end of next year.
“I’ve even heard rumors that the UFC is coming back, so I might have to headline that one…we’ll see. I don’t even want to be a headliner. I don’t like fighting late but it’s part of the gig.”
The 28-year-old Nigerian talent wants to become the UFC’s flagship star and predicts future appearances on popular US chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live!
“The belt is not my main goal. The belt is just part of the thing: I’ve got to get the belt so I get more money and become more of a household name, get on Jimmy Kimmel and all that sh*t,” he said.
“I want to be the guy that the people watch, I want to be the fan favorite…maybe not the fan favorite but if you f*ck with me, I’ll f*ck with you. I just want to be the best and that’s always been the goal.
“The belt is just a fancy tiara that you have to claim along the way. I don’t mind, I look good in gold anyway, it looks good on my black skin.”
Adesanya certainly has the gift of the gab, and the New Zealand-based fighter will look to prove his worth in the Octagon against Italian middleweight Marvin Vettori at UFC on FOX 29 on April 14. The event will be hosted at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.