So far it has been a tough year for Israel Adesanya. An ambitious move up to light heavyweight last March saw the Nigerian-New Zealander suffer his first MMA loss, and most recently his former training partner Fau Vake tragically died from injuries suffered in an assault.
Knowing the resilience and belief that ‘The Last Stylebender’ possesses, he will use his personal hardships as extra motivation to further excel as a martial artist.
Since his first appearance inside the octagon in 2018, Israel Adesanya has built somewhat of a cult following, perhaps initially starting during his kickboxing days in the Glory promotion. So what is it that makes so many fight fans tune in for every bout?
Here are three reasons why UFC fans look forward to every Israel Adesanya fight.
The Matrix of Israel Adesanya
Just like Keanu Reeves’ character Neo in the 1999 science-fiction classic The Matrix, Israel Adesanya seems, at times, to hold abilities unmatched elsewhere in the MMA world. Although ‘The Last Stylebender’ cannot stop bullets by simply raising his hand and saying “no”, he can dodge attacks from the most elite UFC fighters placed in front of him, bending his flexible frame backwards whilst somehow simultaneously throwing counter punches – a glitch in MMAtrix.
In one of the most famous changing of the guard moments, Adesanya defeated his MMA hero Anderson Silva at UFC 234 in 2019. Perhaps ‘The Last Stylebender’ wouldn’t be the fighter he is today without the influence of ‘The Spider’. The enigmatic Brazilian martial artist had at one time received comparisons to Neo himself, due to a very similar fighting style.
UFC fans appreciated the respect shown by both fighters towards each other, and a new fan favorite emerged when Adesanya replicated Neo’s fighting stance at the end of round two.
The pedigree of Israel Adesanya
Before UFC entry in 2018, Adesanya had amassed an outstanding kickboxing record of 75-5, with 29 of those wins coming by way of knockout. ‘The Last Stylebender’ even has a professional boxing record of 5-1. If that fighting pedigree wasn’t impressive enough, the Nigerian-New Zealander has set the new standard for MMA in the middleweight division.
Adesanya has won all 20 of his professional MMA middleweight fights, a winning-streak that is over nine years long. The current UFC middleweight champion boasts dominant victories over the likes of Anderson Silva, Derek Brunson, Kelvin Gastelum, Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa. UFC fans rarely see this kind of fighter grace the octagon. Adesanya is on his way to becoming one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
The ambition of Israel Adesanya
Most UFC champions would be content with maintaining their status as number one in their weight class, happy to defend the belt successfully for as long as possible. But then again, most champions are not like Israel Adesanya.
Not content with just being crowned UFC middleweight king and defending his belt on many occasions, Adesanya looked to challenge himself by stepping up a weight class to fight Jan Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 259 last March.
While Israel Adesanya was unsuccessful in his attempt, it is this neverending ambition that endears him to so many fight fans worldwide.
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