Maybe Israel Adesanya isn’t finishing fights or putting on spectacular performances like he used to because he’s lost some of the hunger and drive that made him champion.
Khamzat Chimaev suggested this might be the case after Adesanya failed to live up to expectations and finish Jared Cannonier in his most recent middleweight title defense at UFC 276, with some fans arguing that his walkout was more entertaining than the fight itself.
Adesanya’s last three fights have gone to a decision and, although he won them convincingly, fans and pundits alike can’t help but feel something is missing, as if the reigning UFC middleweight champion is becoming more risk averse and less entertaining with each passing title defense.
Khamzat, who plans to return to middleweight in the future, can’t disagree. ‘Borz’ claims Adesanya’s fights have become dull and predictable because the latter has fallen out of love with the sport after making so much money.
“He’s doing his job,” Chimaev said on The MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting). “He makes his money. Now he’s the champ. He doesn’t need to do crazy things just to win.”
“I don’t know what’s happening with him last time, he fights better before,” he added. “Now maybe he’s not that hungry. He’s driving crazy cars and he has a lot of money and it makes some people change. When you’re hungry, you fight crazy like he did before. Now, I don’t know. He just makes the points and win the fights. It’s boring.”
Adesanya’s next title defense is expected to be against former GLORY two-division champion Alex Pereira, who earned a title shot following a first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276, the same card Adesanya defeated Cannonier to retain his middleweight belt.