Nigerian-born kiwi Israel Adesanya is the UFC’s next superstar. Training out of City Kickboxing in Auckland, New Zealand, the undefeated (15-0) kickboxer-turned-MMA fighter burst onto the scene with his elite striking, extreme confidence and meme-making swagger.
The Last Stylebender shot up the Middleweight rankings and dominated headlines after registering an impressive four victory campaign in 2018. The hype generated around Adesanya comes from not only his performances in the kickboxing ring (75-5-1) and MMA cage, but his confident trash talk and social media presence using memes.
“Have you seen my memes?” It may not be the most traditional trash talk, but this is just one of many infamous lines cherished by internet circles, coming during a weigh-in stare-down with Derek Brunson leading up to their UFC 230 bout in the Madison Square Garden.
Adesanya’s use of memes often reference his love of anime culture. Something fairly harmless that has caused a divide in some fans who either fell in love with the MMA superstar or believe it is a corny schtick. Regardless of your opinion on the personality of what the self-described “weeb” shows us, something you simply cannot deny is his superior skill, use of head movement and creativity in striking.
While The Last Stylebender has rejected his comparisons to fellow superstars Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, you can’t help but notice the similarities in creativity, precision and fight IQ. There are very few arguments against Adesanya’s striking, but a lingering question mark was the fighter’s ability to defend takedowns against the wrestle-heavy 185 pound weight class and the kind of arsenal he possesses on the ground.
At UFC 230, critics were put to rest (for the time being) when Adesanya completely dismantled Derek Brunson, a powerful wrestler, stuffing every take down attempt and putting up a pay-per-view a master class on patience, cage control and timing. A sneaky knee to the dome while Brunson attempted a shot on his opponent’s legs was the beginning of the end. Stalking him across the cage, Adesanya delivered accurate blows to the face followed by a question mark kick to the side of the head. Fatality. Izzy Wins.
On February 9th, Adesanya fights in Melbourne, Australia against one of his idols, Anderson Silva, co-headlining UFC 230. UFC President Dana White stated that the winner of the bout will claim the right to challenge for the UFC Middleweight Championship title. The 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker defends his belt against challenger Kevin Gastellum the very same day.
Keep an eye on Adesanya as he partakes in interviews and social media interactions with followers leading up to UFC 234. Fight fans are guaranteed fireworks when these warriors step into the octagon.
Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @stylebender