Perhaps no UFC champion since Brock Lesnar has run up the ranks to a title with so singular a skill set. To date, over three years and nine fights in the Octagon, Israel Adesanya has attempted three takedowns and three submissions, completing none of them. Over the same stretch he’s thrown 1166 strikes, landing 606 (a 52% clip), resulting in eleven knockdowns. Who Adesanya is in the cage, and what he brings to the table, couldn’t be clearer.
But, the champ appears to be looking to change that reputation. Over on his Instagram page, the middleweight king revealed that he’d recently received his purple belt from BJJ master Andre Galvao. “Although initially I didn’t feel like I deserve this. I trust his judgement and feel I have earned this,” Adesanya wrote in a post showing off his new Jiu Jitsu hardware.
And in an interview with MMA Fighting, the City Kickboxing talent talked about his work in the grappling realm—along with his hope that, sooner or later, he gets a chance to tap someone in the cage.
“I hope they start shooting on me more cause I want to choke somebody out,” Adesanya revealed. “I mean people were shooting on me at the beginning of my UFC career, and then they realized, ‘We can’t be doing that, f-ck it let’s strike, oh we can’t do that [either].’”
“They should go back to shooting on me again,” Adesanya added, speaking of the recent lack of wrestling-focused attacks on his game, “cause I’ve got some tricks that I want to use.”
At the moment, the ‘Last Stylebender’ is gearing up for a move to light heavyweight, and a crack at newly crowned 205 lb champion Jan Blachowicz. While not averse to a wrestling or grappling attack, the ‘Prince of Cieszyn’ has mostly avoided ground battles over the past couple years, with only one attempted takedown in his last five fights.
Will Blachowicz switch up the narrative from his recent performances, and try to put Adesanya on his back? Or will he be yet another opponent who decides that his best path to beating the Nigerian-born New Zealander comes through a striking contest? Sooner or later, someone’s got to try and challenge Adesanya’s newly minted grappling chops.