Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya is one of the fastest rising stars in combat sports today, which is why young fighters may want to look at “Last Stylebender” and emulate his path to greatness.
Adesanya, 30, burst onto the UFC scene back in 2018 after a successful stint in professional kickboxing. It didn’t take Adesanya long to impress as he won his first five Octagon appearances, proving that he’s one of the best strikers in the world.
“Last Stylebender” then used his 5-0 UFC record to lock down an interim middleweight title shot opposite Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236. Adesanya won that fight, unified the belt with a knockout win over Robert Whittaker six months later at UFC 243, and then defended it for the first time this past March against Yoel Romero at UFC 248.
During his rise to stardom Adesanya has conducted himself as a true professional and has done everything by the book. Adesanya has created some bad blood with current UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones along the way, but that public spat has only cast a larger spotlight on “Last Stylebender’s” UFC takeover.
With a long career ahead of him and a UFC middleweight title to defend, Adesanya must remain focused and on top of his game. The Nigerian-born fighter plans on doing the same thing he’s been doing and even offered up some advice for young fighters looking for a break.
“Take notes in a sense of how I’ve handled the pressure, the media and all that kind of stuff,” Adesanya told BJPenn.com. “But don’t be taking notes and be like, ‘Izzy does things like this. I’m going to do it like this.’ You have to be yourself. You can’t be anyone else but your best you. That’s what’s going to sell. Don’t try and be fake like Jones, don’t try and be a rapper when you can’t rap.
“Just be yourself,” Adesanya added. “And me being myself is something like what I did for my UFC entrances in the last fight and the previous one, just making references to my culture through dance, which I love. Making references to anime culture and some other nerd shit and it’s cool shit that really vibes with me. So I’m being authentically myself and these guys should take notes in being authentically themselves. Figuring out what that is. It’s not for everyone. And I’ve changed the game with that now and in doing that.”
It’s hard to be yourself in today’s MMA as so many fighters are trying to create buzz and capture headlines to land more high-profile bouts, but Adesanya has remained himself. From his pre-fight trashtalk to his unique Octagon entrances, “Last Stylebender” is the same person he was when he entered the Octagon over two years ago. The only thing different is the gold belt wrapped around his waist.