Israel Adesanya on journey from MMA fan to UFC champion: ‘It’s crazy’

Israel Adesanya
Image: @ufc on Instagram

Israel Adesanya has only been fighting in the UFC for a little over a year, but he’s quickly become a household name as well as the interim middleweight champion of the world.

This quick rise up the rankings has even surprised Adesanya himself. In October, “Stylebender” meets UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in a title unification bout at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia. Adesanya spoke to UFC.com about the fight against Whittaker and how quickly he’s become a star in the sport of mixed martial arts.

“This is going to be the biggest fight event – boxing, MMA, wrestling, judo, anything – the biggest fight event in history in Oceania,” Adesanya said. “I’m honored to be a part of that moment. From a guy who is just a fan, who just likes to watch the UFC amongst all these guys that I’ve watched for years – come on, man. It’s crazy.”

It is remarkable how quickly Adesanya has become a champion in a sport that chews up fighters and spits them out. Adesanya made his UFC debut in February 2018 and in October 2019 he will be headlining the biggest card in the history of Australia and New Zealand. For someone who has come from humble roots, that fact is not lost on Adesanya.

But of course, his sole focus right now on beating Whittaker and taking his belt. Adesanya believes he already has the upper hand when it comes to trash talking, and he is confident that his swagger will translate to a victory inside the cage.

“(Whittaker) doesn’t talk in person,” Adesanya said. “He likes to do it online, and in interviews, and I don’t know if anyone writes his s*hit or he has the same one-liners, but f*ck, whatever. In person, he can’t even want that smoke.”

How excited are you for Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker at UFC 243?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/14/2019.