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Israel Adesanya ‘happy’ with performance against Jared Cannonier: ‘I was right there in his face’

Israel Adesanya sees nothing wrong with his performance at UFC 276.

UFC 276: Adesanya v Cannonier
Israel Adesanya defeats Jared Cannonier to retain his UFC middleweight title.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Israel Adesanya is happy with his performance against Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 and feels the critics have blown things out of proportion.

Adesanya defeated Cannonier via unanimous decision to retain his middleweight title, but many fans were disappointed with the result and felt ‘The Last Stylebender’ could have done more to finish the fight.

Adesanya acknowledges it wasn’t quite the spectacular performance he promised in the buildup but rejects the idea that he took his foot off the gas and coasted to victory.

Here’s what the 32-year-old had to say about his performance after recently rewatching the fight (h/t MMA Fighting).

“I rewatched it two days after the fight and I watched it once, that’s all I needed for now. I was just happy with the performance,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “I wasn’t ecstatic about the performance, but I was happy with it. It wasn’t what people were trying to make it out to be...

“I didn’t really take my foot off the gas too much. The only time I wasn’t able to was when he held me against the fence. I broke away when I needed to and kept on fighting, as soon as I broke away. I’d normally just keep on him straight away because I know he’s tired from holding me, because I could feel his squeeze just holding me... When he weakened, I got away and put pressure on him straight away, trying to create openings. I just wasn’t able to create the ones that I needed at the time. But yeah, these things happen.”

Adesanya says he was looking for the finish but didn’t want to overcommit and leave himself vulnerable to attack. He was “right there in his [Cannonier’s] face” from the opening bell till the final second of the fight.

“You can go down the fight card and there are people saying what they’re going to do in the fight, not just myself, other athletes. Shout out to Max Holloway, he said, ‘I’ll be surprised if this goes more than three rounds, because he was that confident in himself.’ He didn’t get the job done but you’re not going to kick a man when he’s down. You only kick him when he’s up.

“We all believe in what we’re going to do. Not just Max, everyone else. I really know what I can do and I know what I could have done to him and I was trying to do it to him, but it just didn’t happen the way I wanted it to. But again, I’m the one getting flak. There was no bit in that fight where I took my foot off the gas in the sense that I’m coasting. I wasn’t coasting. I was like, I’m going to keep touching him until he falls. I didn’t want to overcommit, because I knew he was going to counter me or I knew I’d leave myself in a vulnerable position, and that’s stupid. But I was right there in his face.”

The victory marked Adesanya’s fifth title defense since he first claimed the middleweight throne in 2019 with a knockout win over Robert Whittaker at UFC 243. Adesanya already claims to have a date for his next title defense against Alex Pereira, although only he knows when that will be.