Israel Adesanya stole the show at UFC 243 before even stepping into the Octagon.
“The Last Stylebender” made his entrance for Saturday’s main event at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, by employing three of his close friends to assist him in an elaborate dance routine that involved dialogue from the film Taken, hip-hop, a play on the Maori haka, and a Naruto reference among other elements:
When it was time for Adesanya to fight Robert Whittaker, he went toe-to-toe with the champion before finishing Whittaker with strikes in the second round to unify his interim title with Whittaker’s undisputed title.
At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Adesanya explained the motivation behind his entrance and how it came together.
“Nobody is doing anything like I’m doing,” Adesanya said. “This is a 60,000-seat arena. People, after seeing that entrance, I bet you the green-eyed monsters were like, ‘I f*cking hope this guy loses. I f*cking hope.’ I saw some you in here as well, ‘This assh*ole, look at him. Thinks he’s the f*cking man. I hope he loses. I hope he gets flatlined.’ ‘Cause that’s just that—It’s ingrained in us. It’s this tall poppy syndrome, it’s this jealousy that when you see someone shining you feel like it takes away from your own shine.
“Look, I can’t dim my shine just because some people feel uncomfortable. Everything went full circle tonight.”
Adesanya referred to his dancers as his “day negative-fives,” in reference to how long his friends have supported him, and credited them with setting a “fun” tone for him. In contrast, he felt that Whittaker was “too intense.”
The new undisputed champion dismissed the notion that preparing for his entrance may have in any way distracted him or that it might bring him negative attention. If anything, he wished he’d done it sooner, and planned to when he fought middleweight legend Anderson Silva at UFC 234 in Melbourne earlier this year.
“I don’t have to worry about it. I’m a dancer, I’m an entertainer. I don’t have to worry about it. We came up with that on Wednesday. I tried to do it at the Silva fight in February and the UFC were like, ‘No, we can’t have that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, f*ck you then.’ This fight, this is my show, I’m headlining this bitch, so I was like, no, I’m gonna do it my way or no way. Who else, on this kind of stage is gonna do that before they go and whup some ass. I think James Te Huna’s the only one that’s ever done it from what I can remember with the Men in Black intro and Anderson Silva did it in Pride with his Michael Jackson s*it.
“But this is—I showed you guys, if I could sing, trust me, Justin Bieber wouldn’t even have a job. But you don’t want to hear me sing. You’ve got to realize this is the spectacle, this is a big stadium, I have to give them a show and set the tone. There’s no one like me. No one.”