Israel Adesanya has found the sweet spot between his two passions: fighting and dancing. During a recent interview with ESPN, the middleweight star explains how the latter impacted his meteoric rise to becoming a UFC Champion.
On March 7th 2020 at UFC 248, the New-Zealander will face the “boogeyman” of the middleweight division, Yoel Romero in the main event. This is the first time he will defend the 185-belt since knocking out the former champion, Robert Whittaker in 2019. Adesanya believes defeating Romero is essential in solidifying his legacy. However, “The Last Styebender” has endured a long, winding path before stepping onto the UFC road of success.
In an episode published today by ESPN, Adesanya reveals that he was an outcast among his peers after moving to New Zealand from Nigeria at the age of twelve.
Dancing was initially a tool to score points with his fellow classmates, but it later became a form of creative expression that he incorporated into his fighting arsenal. Adesanya explains why dancing gives him an added boost when entering the Octagon:
“Dancers I feel, they have the best muscle memory on the planet, ’cause they have to drill drill drill.”
Since joining the UFC, he envisioned doing a dance walk-out to his fights, but UFC president Dana White shut it down:
“The motivation behind it was just expressions, self-expression,” said Adesanya. “If you are authentically you and express yourself truly, no one can f*ck with you. But the UFC turned it down.”
White revealed he operates the UFC with a strict no-dancing walkout policy:
“A choreographed intro walk-ins, we do not do here,” stated Dana White. “And we will not do as long as I’m here. There’s not many scenarios where fight fans want to see men dancing, ever. ”
However, eight months after raising the idea, beating Anderson Silva and accomplishing an 18-0 record, Stylebender’s wish was granted. He walked out and smashed a choreographed routine, accompanied by skilled backup dancers for his title bout against Robert Whittaker:
“This fight, I was the real main event,” said Adesanya. “It was my show, so I was like, I’m going to do this my way or no way…I knew he [White] would have liked it because it was sick as f*ck.”
“I went out there, I hit my sh*t and it was legendary.”
Watch Israel Adesanya and the intersection of fighting and dancing below: