Israel Adesanya enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in the UFC. After making his debut with the promotion in 2018, the former world class kickboxer rattled off six straight victories, picking up an interim middleweight title in the process—before defeating Robert Whittaker to unify the the belts in 2019.
A little more than a year later, and Adesanya tried his hand at securing his second UFC belt, with a light heavyweight title fight against then-champion Jan Blachowicz. The ‘Last Stylebender’ walked out of that fight with the first loss of his pro MMA career. However, in a recent video posted to his YouTube channel, the 33-year-old admitted that losing didn’t sit half so poorly with him as a fight he had in 2020. The real low point of Adesanya’s MMA career came in his first title defense, a notably lackluster victory over Yoel Romero.
“It’s not the Jan fight, surprisingly,” Adesanya admitted in the brief interview clip, “Because people expected, like, ‘Oh, it’s gonna be—’ No, I’m fine. Like I said, dare to be great.”
“Lowest point in MMA, holdup—if I’m being honest, the Romero fight. Because that was the first time people were just like, ‘Ah, boring.’ He had another fight after me and he did the same thing. The smart people were like, ‘Ah, Israel was right. He’s doing the exact same thing.’ Because he knew if he made a move against me the wrong way, I was gonna catch him.”
“Bits of it still reared its ugly head, but I squash it now because I’m an adult and I know how to handle it. But after that fight, I was like, ‘I was fighting, I was trying to—he was just standing there, why are you blaming me?’ That’s why this now, I’m just like, ‘Eh, whatever.’ And I talked to George about it, and I’m like, ‘Eh, whatever, I know what I’m gonna do.’
“But that was my first time where I kind of felt, like, ‘Bluh.’ I hate to say it, but the fans ‘turned on me’ in a way. Where I was like, ‘Wait, what? Now they’re saying I’m shit?” I’m like, ‘Did you not watch the one before this? Did you not watch the one before-before that? The one before, before that!?’
“That’s why in that Costa fight I had that chip on my shoulder, and I was just like, ‘Watch this.’”
Adesanya went on to talk about his feelings in the wake of his KO loss to Alex Pereira as well, but eventually came back around to the Romero fight again.
“Like I said, the Romero thing as well, that was the worst for me,” Adesanya added. “It wasn’t that ‘worst.’ But, it was just, like, the narrative, and it was the voices that were the loud—they were probably the minority, but they were the loudest voices. The fucking eat-ass cunts. So that’s why I went in to the Costa fight just free, like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna show you what’s up.”
Adesanya is currently scheduled to take on his aforementioned former kickboxing foe, Alex Pereira, in defense of the UFC middleweight title on November 12th, at UFC 281, in Madison Square Garden, New York, NY. Alongside that main event bout the UFC has booked a women’s strawweight title fight between recently re-crowned champion Carla Esparza and former champion/current top contender Zhang Weili.