Few fighters in MMA have had the same kind of meteoric rise as Israel Adesanya. “The Last Stylebender” made his UFC debut last year and has since rattled off six straight wins and captured the interim middleweight title. This weekend, Adesanya will look to unify his interim belt with Robert Whittaker’s undisputed title at UFC 243, and then after that, Adesanya says he’s coming for another title, the title of biggest star in MMA.
In an interview with Submission Radio, Adesanya and his coach Eugene Bareman discusses what the future holds for Adesanya and both of them believe he’s about to become the biggest star in the sport, even bigger than Conor McGregor.
“Our expectations are high,” Bareman said. “Like, they’re just as high the UFC’s. When Israel wins this belt, we think he’ll be biggest star in the UFC, basically. The biggest active star anyway. I know there’s one other star that’s sitting out, but I also know Israel’s goal was to be a bigger star than that guy as well.”
“Yeah, I mean, we’re not in the same weight class, but the numbers, coming from those number as well,” Adesanya continued. “I’m coming for those numbers. And I didn’t chase them, they just kind of happen organically, they just chase us. So yeah, making it happen. . .
“Win fights, keep that same energy. And also, you’re forgetting about Nigeria. It’s 190 million strong. 190 million strong, and they ride for their people. We’re coming. Slowly, but we’re coming.”
This should come as little surprise to anyone who has been following Adesanya’s MMA career. “The Last Stylebender” has always had lofty goals and so far he’s lived up to them. But Adesanya and his coach have even higher expectations for himself than most would expect as they are already playing around with the idea of eventually taking a superfight at heavyweight.
“If it didn’t have to be next year, and you just wanted to go as big of a fight as we could, then I think you’d fight the heavyweight champ,” Bareman said. “No, he wouldn’t move up to heavyweight, he’d stay where he is. If you gave me a choice and said, you’ve got to give me a superfight, it’s gotta be a light heavyweight/heavyweight, then I’m taking heavyweight. It’s just different. There’s different things you can take advantage of that heavyweights do that the light heavyweights don’t give you. So like, if you want a show as big as you can (get).”
“In boxing and kickboxing, I’ve stepped in weight in any code I’ve done in fighting,” Adesanya continued. “So yeah, there’s a reason why. Even in kickboxing, I stepped up in heavyweight. And it’s like he said, there are certain things we can take advantage of (at heavyweight). And people think I’m gonna have to put on size, but that’s cause they’re dumb, they don’t understand the game. I weighed in with full clothes and a box of Dunkin’ Donuts the last time I fought at heavyweight. And so I stayed the same weight, but I still packed a punch. And I even dropped the second guy, flatlined him.”
Heavyweight would be a massive step up for Adesanya but one he isn’t entirely unfamiliar with. Adesanya won the King in the Ring heavyweight kickboxing tournament in New Zealand back in 2015. And of course, he’s already made overtures about eventually facing UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. But Bareman says if the opportunity arose to skip 205 entirely and head straight for a fight with reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, they’d be interested.
“If they’re talking about you doing a superfight, then skip light heavyweight and go straight to heavyweight,” Bareman said. “No one’s done that. I think Stipe. Stipe would be the one I’d like to fight.”
“Yeah, definitely,” Adesanya agreed. “I like the way he’s thinking. [Everyone laughs]. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
Israel Adesanya challenges Robert Whittaker for the undisputed middleweight title this Saturday at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia.
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I find it funny all this promotion and talk about me not choosing Caldwell now, but when he was the BW champion and I asked to fight him in Chicago on @BellatorMMA 198 that was denied @ScottCoker. This sheep was embarassed two times recently. Want the belt? Make your way up, bum.
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And Izzy is giving out style points.
Georges is gonna kill himself with all this fasting. (Also, Khabib in the comments with the simple “155?”)
DC starting the retirement tour.
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PVZ rocking her own shoes.
Picking a fight.
I’m waiting…Sign the contract big boy.
— John Wayne Makdessi (@JohnMakdessi) October 2, 2019
This Tweet is a journey.
Quote to a potential sponsor “I’m not mega famous, but people like me” also random, sitting on the couch in my therapist’s office is what i imagine the minutes before a casting couch interview are like, just a different type of vulnerability
— Juan Adams UFC (@chosenjuan285) October 1, 2019
Brendan Loughnane (17-3) vs. Matt Wagy (13-6); PFL 7, Oct. 11.
Kevin Lee (17-5) vs. Grego Gillespie (13-0); UFC 244, Nov. 2.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
Izzy vs. Stipe, who ya got?
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