Though it was shamefully under-promoted, one of the most hyped UFC debuts in recent memory occurred last night on the UFC 221 undercard, as “The Last Style Bender” Israel Adesanya stepped into the Octagon for the first time.
Despite a tough first round, throughout which he was taken down and controlled by his opponent Rob Wilkinson, Adesanya ultimately made good on his debut, gaining control of the fight in the second, and unleashing a hellacious beating en route to an impressive TKO win. He’s now 12-0 overall.
With this win, Adesanya immediately stands out as one of the most hyped prospects on the UFC roster – and he seems to know it.
Recently, the kickboxing export compared his singing with the UFC to the promotion’s signing of pro wrestling star CM Punk.
More recently still he compared his UFC debut to that of Conor McGregor.
“The pressure has been the same since the jump, since 2008 when I started fighting,” Adesanya told Sherdog.com post-fight. “After my first fight, people were like, ‘Wow, look out for this guy,’ and it’s been growing, following me. Pretty sure I had more hype than Conor before he jumped in UFC. Now people know who I am and it’s time to work.”
“This isn’t my first rodeo. I’m used to this. I’ve been watching the UFC for a long time,” he said. “I know how this works. I’ve prepped, visualized all this and it’s happening now. I just need to roll with it. I ran toward this fight. It’s been a long time. It’s not an eight-week training camp. It’s been an eight-year training camp.”
What do you think the future holds for Israel Adesanya?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 2/11/2018.