Israel Adesanya put forth a star-making performance in the UFC 243 main event, first dazzling fans with an incredibly unique walkout (at least by UFC standards), then by delivering an impressive defeat of Robert Whittaker to capture the UFC middleweight belt.
It’s truly difficult to imagine things going much better for Nigerian-born Kiwi, and all signs point to his achieving the kind of mainstream stardom we’ve only seem from a few fighters previously. UFC welterweight Ben Askren certainly seems to think that will be the case.
Askren, who is a big star in his own right, gave his take on Adesanya after UFC 243. In his eyes, the new middleweight champion is a huge star, and anybody who is not yet sold is simply missing the boat.
I am very critical, but some of you people are missing the boat. @stylebender is a fucking superstar. Charismatic, Unique, Speaks well and can fight.
— Funky (@Benaskren) October 6, 2019
“I am very critical, but some of you people are missing the boat,” Askren said of Adesanya on Twitter. “[Israel Adesanya] is a f**king superstar. Charismatic, Unique, Speaks well and can fight.”
Ben Askren isn’t wrong. Israel Adesanya would seem to have all the prerequisites for a rise not unlike those of Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor. He’s telegenic, engaging, and of course, very exciting to watch fight. With the full force of the UFC marketing machine behind him, it could be a matter of time before he’s making appearances on late night shows and being offered roles in Hollywood action films.
With his victory over Whittaker, Adesanya improved to 18-0— one of the most impressive undefeated records in MMA at present. More impressive still is the fact that his entire UFC career, from his debut to his recent championship win, has been shoehorned into less than two years’ time. His is inarguably one of the fastest rises to championship glory and superstardom that we’ve seen in this sport.
Prior to his run in the UFC, Adesanya enjoyed significant success on the kickboxing circuit.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/7/2019.