Israel Adesanya
The Style Bender


Unification bout in Melbourne confirmed
June 19, 2019
Adesanya is in line to take on UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia on October 5, Rafael Marinho of Combate reports.
Adesanya took control of the interim middleweight title in April with a unanimous decision victory over Kelvin Gastelum in a contest that took home Fight of the Night honors. Adesanya was credited with 109 significant strikes in the victory, as well as his fifth post-fight bonus in six opportunities with the company. While Whittaker has many more UFC fights under his belt, Adesanya recorded more than 150 professional kickboxing fights before starting his MMA career, so the experience difference isn't quite what it looks like on paper. Adesanya may eventually struggle against an elite wrestler, but he has a 85 percent takedown defense to date, and Whittaker averages just 0.37 takedowns per 15 minutes. Effectively, look for this fight to play out on the fight, where Adesanya will have a four-inch height and seven-inch reach advantage. Statistically, Whittaker is the higher-volume striker, but Adesanya is the more accurate one, and has also been able to absorb less punishment. Expect a sellout crowd for this one, as Adesanya calls New Zealand home, while Whittaker hails from Sydney, Australia. Plenty of fantasy points should be scored in this five-round affair.
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Digs deep to win Interim UFC Middleweight Championship
April 13, 2019
Adesanya became the new Interim UFC Middleweight Champion on Saturday, defeating Kelvin Gastelum via unanimous decision (48-46, 48-46, 48-46) at UFC 236 in Atlanta.
With the fight tied at 46 after four rounds, Adesanya turned on the jets in the fifth and final frame to finally pull away. Israel earned the win, but it didn't come easily. He absorbed far more damage than his previous fights, and he was seemingly on his last legs late in Round 4. Yet, in between rounds he managed to find his second win and put Gastelum away. Adesanya won the total strike battle by a count of 135-68, but 57 of those came in Round 5. In other words, this was a dead heat until the last round, so it wasn't surprising to see both men take home post-fight bonuses. Perhaps most impressive was the fact Adesanya stuffed eight of nine takedown attempts from Kelvin and the one time he did get taken to the mat, he got right back up. We all knew Adesanya was a world-class striker, but he also has a terrific chin and his grappling game in much improved. He is going to be difficult to beat moving forward. A unification bout with Robert Whittaker later in 2019 is up next for "The Last Stylebender".
Gets his first shot at UFC gold
February 19, 2019
Adesanya will take on Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight title at UFC 236 on April 13, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
Adesanya was in the cage very recently, picking up a relatively painless victory over aging UFC legend Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 234. He won the striking battle 65 to 31 en route to a unanimous decision win. "The Last Stylebender" has been clear about his title aspirations since then, and the UFC will grant that wish by giving him a shot at Gastelum. Gastelum had been in line to face champion Robert Whittaker on the same card, but Whittaker was a late withdrawal after undergoing emergency hernia surgery. The real champ will be sidelined over a month as a result, and the UFC decided to book an interim fight instead. It's as good of a matchup as Adesanya could have hoped for in this spot. Neither fighter is interested in wrestling much, as Adesanya has yet to secure a takedown in his UFC tenure, and Gastelum hasn't been credited with one since November of 2015. Assuming the fight stays on the feet, Adesanya will look to keep Gastelum at bay with seven-inch height and nine-inch reach advantages. Gastelum is most dangerous when he gets into boxing range, but that will be much easier said than done against a fighter of Adesanya's length. Whoever ends up on top in this one will get the first shot at Robert Whittaker in a unification belt, as soon as "Bobby Knuckles" is healthy.
Faces down a legend in the main event of UFC 234
February 9, 2019
Adesanya defeated Anderson Silva via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27. 30-27) at UFC 234 on Saturday in Melbourne.
Adesanya had a little bit more trouble than expected with Silva, but he ended up pulling out the decision. He did a good job of leading in the striking against the legend, but he also ate some strikes. In the first and third rounds, Adesanya was clearly the better striker, but the second round was somewhat close. When it was all said and done, the two men each took home $50,000 Fight of the Night bonuses for the show they put on. With the victory, Adesanya put himself in position for a middleweight title shot. The UFC will likely try to remake the fight between champion Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum, but Adesanya should likely get the next opportunity.
Gets UFC legend in February
November 25, 2018
Adesanya will take on Anderson Silva in a middleweight matchup at UFC 234 on Feb. 9 in Melbourne, Australia, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
It was previously reported that Adesanya had declined an opportunity to serve as an alternate for this card's main event: a matchup between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum for the middleweight title. Adesanya now has an official fight on the card, though if anything were to happen to either combatant in the main event, he would likely be the promotion's first choice as a replacement. Assuming he takes on Silva as planned, Adesanya would be in line to enter as a large betting favorite. He's 14 years younger than "The Spider" and would seemingly have a large speed advantage. Silva has long been thought of as one of the most unique and diverse strikers in the promotion, but he's 43 years old and has been on the sidelines for over a year while serving a USADA suspension. The UFC is clearly looking to showcase Adesanya here, and if he cashes in a big performance like he's expected to, there's a good chance he draws the winner of the Whittaker vs. Gastelum matchup in his next trip to the cage.
Declines lucrative opportunity
November 19, 2018
Adesanya was offered a spot as the back up for February's middleweight title fight between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234, but ultimately declined, Christopher Reive of the New Zealand Herald reports.
Adesanya instead intends to compete in a middleweight title eliminator fight this year, but likely won't disclose the opponent until the ink hits the paper. Adesanya is one of the hottest fighters in the sport at the moment, riding a four-fight winning streak with recent victories over higher-ranked opponents in Derek Brunson and Brad Tavares. While known for his unique and diverse striking, Adesanya impressed his last time out by stuffing all seven of Brunson's takedown attempts. While Adesanya's next opponent has yet to be announced, the only top-10 UFC middleweights coming off wins and without a fight currently scheduled are Jacare Souza and Paulo Costa. Costa was once scheduled to fight Yoel Romero and the UFC may still try to make that matchup, however. Luke Rockhold also represents an intriguing opponent, though it's unclear when he'll be recovered from the undisclosed injury that forced his withdrawal from UFC 230.