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MMA SQUARED, Stories of 2019: Israel Adesanya, birth of a star

The man went from haughty kickboxer to MMA wunderkind in two years.

2018 was a breakout year for Israel Adesanya and the man only outdid himself in 2019. He was a last minute headliner at UFC 234 against Anderson Silva and the two men saved a lackluster card and performed a heartfelt passing of the torch moment post-fight.

When an injured Robert Whittaker was unable to square off with Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236, Adesanya stepped up again and the two men put on (IN MY OPINION) the fight of the year.

The signature moment unfolded with the fight tied at two rounds apiece as Adesanya, face swollen and head recently concussed by a head kick, could be seen talking to himself. He dug deeper than most people will their whole lives, whispering to himself “I’m willing to die for this, heart of a lion.”

At UFC 236 the Last Stylebender turned his interim title into the undisputed middleweight championship with a masterpiece performance against Robert Whittaker. It was his Anderson Silva vs Forrest Griffin moment, and the torch passing ceremony eight months previous was complete and burned as brightly as it had in 2009.

What does the future hold? Paulo Costa. Big and fast and deadly, and completely unintimidating according to the current champ.

The entire time that Israel Adesanya had been having this amazing year, Jon Jones has been breathing down his neck, inviting him up to light heavyweight. It is a favorite pastime of Bones to beat up middleweights (six, if we’re counting Rashad Evans).

Adesanya might be my fighter of the year. Tune in tomorrow for the final installment of Stories of 2019 to read about the only competitor with a credible case otherwise.

Take care of yourself and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.