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Israel Adesanya, the middleweight UFC champion, is the modern blueprint for how MMA glory should be made. The native Nigerian and New Zealander started fighting over a decade ago, working on boxing, kickboxing and MMA. As a kickboxer Adesanya achieved an overall record of 75: 5. He went 5-1 in boxing and is unbeaten in MMA with 18 wins.
In mixed martial arts, the UFC is known for making a potential star fast work. A fighter may have everything – the face, the microphone skills, and the fighting spirit – but he's at the end of a leaning haywire who sends his body (and his confidence) to the canvas. Or when they arrive at the top, they wrestle with a relentless and devastating media circus that leads them from country to country. It is rough. The fighters that can win, cut off entertaining promos, and keep their fans on the go are those who climb the ranks and make big bucks.
Adesanya arrived at the UFC in February 2018 and has built a flashy clinic in each fight with an amusing interview after the fight and a press conference. He worked his way up to the UFC 243, where he defeated on October 6, 2019 in the second round Robert Whittaker, the then champion. Now Adesanya sits pretty as the king of middleweights – all in a year and a half in the UFC. He is funny. He is confident. He can fight and Adesanya seems to be here to stay.
We met with the current champion to discuss his recent fame, favorite animes, and plans for the future in the UFC, which he believes are a battle with great UFC player Jon Jones.
M & F: What do you like at the top?
Israel Adesanya: I say, "Damn glory, but I enjoy the benefits." When I had a normal job, I went into the footlocker and dreamed, man, when I got money, I got this shoe and this and that here. But here is a twist of the plot: Once you have all the money, everyone gives you things for free.
And what is an aspect of fame that you do not like?
The lack of privacy. I think people lose sight of their manners and respect when meeting someone who is famous. I was in a grocery store and usually look homeless when I'm running errands and someone discovers me checking out. He yells, "Oh my god! I'm your biggest fan. "Everyone looks on and starts freaking out, after all, I'm just a normal guy and it's a bit embarrassing when I try to buy groceries and a guy screams in my face.
How do you feel about people getting tattoos from you?
If someone draws inspiration from my journey, that's cool. How I respect that and I appreciate that. You know, but yes, just do not get cheap. I only advise you, because this mug is really hard to draw.
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#anotherone back2back for the haters Maaaan, frag @ joey.crockett, @chancewho … I said that shit for Yonks, as if I knew all that, I love the ultimate love
What is the most overrated and underrated anime of all time?
I would say the most overrated anime of all time is Dragonball GT. I expected more from that and it simply did not meet the hype. I did not even finish it. An underrated, restrained anime is Devilman. It's on Netflix. I liked that and I do not think it gets as much attention as it deserves. So Devilman or Castlevania. No, no – Devilman.
What would your own anime look like?
I want to be a guy who can travel the times and who tries to kill certain people in time and space. Turn time and space. I leave it with me and will explain it later.
Who hit you hardest from your seven UFC bouts?
Without a doubt Kelvin Gastelum. My face looked like a potato after this fight. He beat me the hardest, but I took everything.
What was the first thing you bought after you cashed your check on UFC 243?
I have bought three new properties to expand my already growing portfolio. You have to let your money work for you.
How did you think Darren Till looked against Kelvin Gastelum after moving up to welterweight middleweight?
I found his performance very clever because he suffered two defeats when he was done and had to play the game against an animal hostel. He played a good distance – he was either far out or very close and attacked with short elbows. I was impressed.
Till said he wants to fight you for the legacy. What do you think about it?
We met and we always knew we would fight at one point. I told him last year when we met in LA and he was still welterweight. If he went out there and strengthened Gastelum, I'd think it over a lot, but you know, he played it safe. He just arrived here. I've done a lot to get this belt, so he has to work a bit too.
Want to defend your belt or compete with your Twitter rival, Jon Jones, before he moves into the heavyweight category?
Even if he rises, I will fight him. But at the moment I still have much to do. I will not disregard anyone, but people from that time decide, "I have the belt, now I want a great fight." What the hell? Defend your belt first. Clean up your department. Respect the game – I will not stop a division just to start a fight. So yes, I will do my homework, clean up the department and then go up to heavyweight. I have already given the date: 2021 at Raiders Stadium in Las Vegas. I decided in July when I saw it was built over the desert. Here the fight will take place.