Israel Adesanya is a much better fighter since his loss to Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259, according to City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman.
Adesanya came up short in his bid to become a two-division champion when he took on Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title last year and, although he lost the fight via unanimous decision, Bareman says the loss was actually a good thing for Adesanya in the long-run.
“Absolutely not,” Bareman said on The MMA Hour ahead of Adesanya’s rematch with Robert Whittaker (h/t MMA Fighting). “That was an opportunity that presented itself, and the only thing that I would regret now — and Israel would regret it too — is if we hadn’t taken that opportunity. We’d still be sitting here today thinking what could have been. At the end of the day, what benefit was there to not taking it? An undefeated record? Who cares about an undefeated record? The biggest benefit now, in hindsight, is that Israel is a much better fighter because of that loss. That sort of inevitably happens, that’s a common thing with fighting.”
“Israel was able to bounce back from that fight far better than what he’d have had to had he just carried on fighting Paulo Costa,” he continued. “It’s essentially what gave him the motivation and the strength to push him to the next level against Paulo Costa and against Marvin Vettori and now against Robert [Whittaker]. So nothing bad came out of that fight, in my opinion.”
Adesanya might have come up short against Blachowicz but Bareman says it’s ‘still in Israel’s heart’ to make another run for the light heavyweight title, hinting ‘The Last Stylebender’ will be better prepared in the future.
“We set a goal, and goals don’t just disappear because you fail at them,” Bareman said. “How many instances in history has there been a goal and no one reached it the first time? I believe it’s still in Israel’s heart and mind that he wants to chase that next weight division up. We’ll take the lessons from the first attempt and transpose them in the second attempt.
“The only thing I’d have done different from that fight, which we found out in hindsight wasn’t an option — I would have built Israel into a 205er, a proper 205er. But we made a calculated guess that we could beat Jan at our walking around middleweight weight, and we did that because we didn’t want to put on muscle and then reduce Israel back down to middleweight, which we knew was always going to happen.
“So the only thing I’d do different, and the only thing I’ve taken note for the future, is that if we went to 205 [again], we’d build our body into a 205 fighter as opposed to a middleweight taking on a 205er.”
Before Adesanya makes another run at 205, the middleweight champ must first get past Whittaker on Saturday. Adesanya previously KO’d Whittaker at UFC 243 and will look to add another highlight-reel knockout to his resume when he defends his title against ‘The Reaper’ at UFC 271 on Feb. 12 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.