Israel Adesanya made his UFC debut in February after a lengthy kickboxing career and six years of fighting under MMA regulation. UFC 230 marks his fourth scheduled UFC bout in the span of nine months. The predominant striker is fighting as if to make up for lost time and fans have taken notice.
Israel Adesanya arrived to the UFC with sights set on making the UFC middleweight division young again. A year ago, current UFC champion, Robert Whittaker made a statement by solidifying his place above the likes of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Yoel Romero. Now, Israel Adesanya along with names like Paulo Costa, and Kelvin Gastelum are the young guns in an aging division attempting to follow suit.
Adesanya is an interesting character than most. It’s hard to tell if he possesses a foreign accent. He holds some physical and athletic resemblance to Jon Jones, but doesn’t share interesting leisure activities such as weekend coke binges and hooker sand blasting. He instead takes inspiration from Shinobi Naruto. Adesanya even wore a man purse to the UFC’s 25th anniversary press conference along with socks and sandals and still managed to look cool.
His time on Joe Rogan’s podcast resulted in positive feedback from fans who deem him relatable. He’s the one guy the UFC is behind that hasn’t caused internet fan outrage. At least not yet. Adesanya is still in the puppy love stage with MMA fans.
Now officially ranked in the top ten UFC rankings, the internet highlight sensation is entering his first UFC feud. You know you’ve made it in the UFC when you’re involved in a back-and-forth verbal exchange at a press conference. Derek Brunson claims Adesanya is too skinny for him while Adesanya believes Brunson will be a knockout victim.
Ever since the fall of Anderson Silva, the middleweight division has been lacking the pure flashy striker successful enough to earn championship status. Sure, Whittaker is probably the closest we’ve seen to having a standup specialist ruling the 185-lb division, but he doesn’t possess the it factor. Unlike Whittaker’s journey to title contention, all eyes are glued on Adesanya and any hint of a slip up.
Should he get past Brunson, then it’s on to the top 5. Four grappling specialists and one undersized middleweight who could possibly be champion by next year. The most interesting man in the UFC’s middleweight division is arguably Adesanya, who has yet to get a finish in his first three bouts. Which proves that the hype is always a treat to watch while it lasts.