Israel Adesanya turned the middleweight division on its head earlier this month at UFC 243 when he ended 185-pound king Robert Whittaker via second-round knockout (highlights HERE) to become undisputed champion.
While Adesanya's finish over Whittaker proved that he's the best middleweight on the planet with a perfect MMA record of 18-0, it was his performance both before and after the fight that have people talking about "Last Stylebender's" superstar potential. After all, few fighters nail a choreographed dance routine on their way to the cage before knocking out a UFC champion.
One of those in awe of Adesanya is none other than former UFC middleweight champion and current color commentator Michael Bisping, who believes the new middleweight king is just scratching the surface.
“Listen, the walkout was great,” Bisping said during a recent episode of his Believe You Me podcast. “He’s a star, he’s got charisma, all that type of stuff. And right now he’s poised to set to be possibly the biggest star in the UFC. He could even overtake McGregor at this rate. He really could. Well for one, he hasn’t got the negativity surrounding him. He hasn’t made all the mistakes. Now, who knows? He might go down that route, but I doubt it.”
Adesanya, 30, has dominated the competition since entering UFC just two years ago. The Nigerian-born middleweight has produced a 7-0 clip with finishes over Whittaker, Derek Brunson, and Rob Wilkinson. “Last Stylebender” has also mixed in wins over legendary UFC fighter Anderson Silva and middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum.
Despite all of his accolades inside of the Octagon, it is actually Adesanya’s presence and composure outside of it that has caught Bisping’s attention the most.
“He really went up in my estimations when we had the Hall of Fame ceremony,” Bisping continued. “He was sat there, I don’t know if he was by himself, I’m sure he was with somebody. But when the cameras went on him, (Israel Adesanya) seemed to be just in there paying respect to the Hall of Famers. I mean I like the guy anyway. He’s always entertaining when he fights, brings it every time. He’s entertaining on the mic. On Instagram, he’s very, very funny. He’s got an awesome account, you need to follow that. But just the fact he was there at International Fight Week, he went and paid his respects to people being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I thought, ‘wow that speaks volumes about the man.’”
Adesanya is quite the fighter, as well as a premier showman, so it will be interesting to see how far “Last Stylebender” can stay atop the middleweight throne moving forward. A clash with undefeated Brazilian contender Paulo Costa should be next in line for the champion and if Adesanya can get past that test with flying colors it may be time to consider him the star that Bisping believes he’ll become.