Israel Adesanya proved he could withstand a good amount of adversity on Saturday night at UFC 236 by surviving Kelvin Gastelum’s attacks to become the interim middleweight champion. His performance impressed the Atlanta crowd in attendance, including UFC president Dana White.
“I’m sure many of you saw it tonight. Israel’s flashy, Israel’s a good-looking kid, Israel speaks really well. Israel became a star tonight,” White told reporters during his post-fight media scrum.
But just how big of a star is Adensanya in White’s eyes after this win? The UFC exec says he is seeing a similarity between “The Last Stylebender” and the company’s most notable name to date.
“You know who he reminds me of? Conor McGregor,” White said of Adesanya. “That’s what Conor did. Conor came in, he stayed active, he built up a lot of notoriety, had some great fights and people knew his name and people wanted to see him fight.
“Israel Adesanya is on the same trajectory right now,” he added. “He’s doing the same exact thing Conor did. And you know what Israel doesn’t say when we call him? He doesn’t say no. ‘I’m on vacation, I’m not gonna show up to fight for a belt, and the possibly get a shot at the champion and make pay-per-view money.’ He says ‘Yeah, I’ll see you in Atlanta.’
“And when you have that type of confidence in yourself, it pays off. It’s definitely gonna pay off for him.”
Adesanya will now face Robert Whittaker to unify the 185-pound title belts. According to White, the fight will likely be held in Whittaker’s home country of Australia.