We all know Israel Adesanya as this technical, almost flawless striker who can make any elite-level middleweight look like an amateur. But as the title suggests, there was one point in his career when he was removed from all of that.
Allow his coach Eugene Bareman to elaborate a little bit. Here’s what he told legendary boxing trainer Teddy Atlas in a recent interview:
Instead of backing the toughness of discipline, of sticking to a gameplan, he decided he would be tough and try and exchange with this guy and make the result definitive. And we were winning that fight right up until the last 30 seconds.
But because Israel took that different mentality on, he got caught by a left hook. And that’s the only fight he’s ever lost by KO.
If you’ve followed “The Last Stylebender’s” career, you already know who Bareman is referring to.
In March 2017, Adesanya suffered the first and only knockout loss of his career at the hands of Alex Pereira. It was when the two combatants faced each other in a rematch at Glory of Heroes 7 in Sao Paulo.
According to Bareman, Adesanya was hellbent on scoring a definitive win. The first fight from 11 months prior ended in a close decision win in favor of Pereira, and Izzy was itching to avenge that.
As you can see on the highlight video below, Adesanya fought rather uncharacteristically. He wasn’t using his feints or picking his shots. He was instead swinging hard, adamant to get that KO. And it cost him a lot.
That all changed when he got to the UFC. Even after Derek Brunson pissed him off because of a blatant shorts grab, Adesanya fought methodically, stuck to his game plan, and eventually got the finish.
They say adversity builds character. In Israel Adesanya’s case, it also transformed him into an entirely different beast.
On Saturday, the reigning middleweight champion will challenge the recently-crowned light heavyweight king Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. Heavier weight class, different caliber of opponent, and the chance to be part of the A-list of UFC champ-champs. Let’s see how he fares on this one.