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UFC’s Israel Adesanya apologizes for rape comment made towards Kevin Holland

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Israel Adesanya’s comments were criticized by New Zealand’s Minister for Sport.

UFC 259: Jan Blachowicz v Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya ahead of his bout with Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

According to the New Zealand Herald UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya said “I will f***ing rape you” in reference to Kevin Holland in a now deleted Instagram video. That comment was quickly condemned by one of New Zealand’s most powerful politicians.

In response to Adesanya’s trash talk towards Holland, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Roberston, who is also the Minister for Sport, said there was “never a time” to make “flippant comments” about rape.

“I’m sure Israel understands that, I believe he has deleted the tweet in question. It will be up to the UFC as to what they do. But I would certainly be making clear to him, and anybody actually, that we have to take rape seriously. It’s not an issue that anyone should be making jokes or flippant comments about at all.”

Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill also condemned Adesanya’s comments and warned that remarks like this risk normalizing threats of sexual violence.

“People with a large social media following can play a significant role in reducing rates of sexual violence and creating healthy cultures of consent for any sexual activity,” said Tohill (per Stuff). “Conversely, these kind of comments where rape is used as a threat create a culture where it is acceptable to make sexualised comments with the potential to cause further harm.

“Sportspeople and celebrities can really influence young people, we would like to see this happen in a positive way, not misused and normalising threats of sexual violence.”

After this backlash Adesanya took to Twitter to apologize for the remark.

“Last weekend fight talk escalated to a point in which I crossed the line,” wrote Adesanya. “I understand the gravity of this word and how it can affect and hurt other people apart from my opponent, although that was NEVER my intention. I am still to growing under the spotlight, and I take this as a lesson to be more selective with words under pressure.”

This isn’t the first time Adesanya has been accused of crossing the line with insensitive language. Last year, in the build up to his fight with Yoel Romero, Adesanya said he would make his opponent “crumble like the Twin Towers”, referencing the terror attack that occurred on September 11, 2001 in New York. Adesanya apologized for that remark.

Adesanya joined the UFC in 2018. A year later, after impressing with wins over Brad Tavares and Derek Brunson, he defeated former champ Anderson Silva by unanimous decision.

After beating ‘The Spider’, Adesanya bested Kelvin Gastelum to earn a UFC middleweight title shot versus Robert Whittaker. Adesanya beat Whittaker, by TKO, at UFC 243 in late 2019. He has since defended that title versus Romero and Paulo Costa.

Earlier this month Adesanya saw his undefeated record marred by Jan Blachowicz, who beat ‘The Last Stylebender’ by unanimous decision to defend the UFC light heavyweight title.