Israel Adesanya defended his UFC middleweight title for the sixth time over the weekend, defeating Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision. However, for many, Adesanya’s walk to the cage at UFC 276 is proving more memorable than what went down in the fight.
The fight itself was somewhat dull with Adesanya neutralizing the threats Cannonier posed, while also not seeming to risk doing anything especially dynamic or creative. The contest received criticism in the arena, with the crowd booing in the later rounds, and among those watching at home.
Before the fight, though, people were getting hyped. That’s thanks to Adesanya—who is known to do things differently—choosing to emulate one of his favourite wrestlers during his walk to the cage.
For his entrance the champion treated us to an homage to WWE legend the Undertaker. His performance included the Undertaker’s signature entrance music, purple lighting, smoke and a black hat and urn.
Among the fans of this entrance is the Undertaker himself, Mark Calaway. The retired wrestling star shared his feelings on the scene with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani.
I asked @undertaker what he thought of @stylebender’s walkout:— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 3, 2022
“I thought it was great! He’s not only a great fighter, he’s an awesome entertainer as well! Tyson Fury gets knocked down & sits up like the UT and Adesanya uses my walkout! Pretty damn cool!”pic.twitter.com/a0tGCZ0DyK
“I thought it was great!” said Calaway. “He’s not only a great fighter, he’s an awesome entertainer as well! Tyson Fury gets knocked down & sits up like [the Undertaker] and Adesanya uses my walkout! Pretty damn cool!”
The Tyson Fury reference Calaway made is a callback to when ‘The Gypsy King’ took on Deontay Wilder. In their first fight Fury was knocked down by Wilder and appeared out for the count. However, Fury bolted up and got back into the fight. That move was reminiscent of what the Undertaker would do during his matches.
Adesanya’s win over Cannonier follows victories over Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker. Prior to those title defences, Adesanya suffered his first ever MMA loss — at the hands of Jan Blachowicz. That loss happened when Adesanya moved up in weight to challenge for the UFC light heavyweight championship.
Many will now be hoping to see Adesanya defend his title to Alex Pereira, who looked sensational in defeating Sean Strickland at UFC 276. Pereira holds two wins over Adesanya from their days in GLORY kickboxing.