A contemplative Israel Adesanya appeared at UFC 281’s post-fight press conference last night (Sat., Nov. 12, 2022) following his shocking fifth round technical knockout loss to Alex Pereira (watch highlights here) inside Madison Square Garden in New York City. Normally, these press conferences are limited to those who won their fights, but “The Last Stylebender” made it a point to show up and speak to the mixed martial arts (MMA) media.
“Whats the emotion? I’m grateful — what a life, what a moment,” Adesanya said. “F—ing crazy ending. Similar to the last time, same story. It’s crazy. But yeah, I was fine. The first thing I said to Eugene [Bareman, his coach] or the ref was I was fine. I was lucid, I was in there. But yeah, s— happens. I talked to my coaches and I trust them [that the stoppage was legit], but I was fine. I could see everything, my eyes might have rolled back a little bit, but I was lucid.
“I’m grateful, I’m proud, my team’s proud of me,” he added. “Respectfully, f— all this s—, f— everybody else, it’s all about my team.
“I’ve been doing this, this is my third fight in 10 months,” Adesanya continued. “Every time I fight, I risk losing what you guys deem as the prestigious — which it is — the belt and all that s—. But, I put it on the line because I’m not trying to just fight once and then chill, do my lap around and parade as the champion and not risk so much. So yeah, I put it on the line and this is what happens when you dare to be great. And I am.”
Adesanya identified the point where things started going wrong in the fifth round, and it was another one of those sneaky calf kicks that left a fighter with a dead leg. It’s happened to Conor McGregor, it’s happened to Sean O’Malley, and now it’s happened to Israel Adesanya.
“He hit my peroneal nerve, so that’s why my footwork was compromised,” he revealed. “Even when I tripped and went backward, I had to do the roly poly. Because I was like, ‘Oh s—, I just tripped over, it’s not like me.’ So, kudos to him for investing in those calf kicks because it cost me.
“It was just my leg, my leg gave away and it was really annoying,” Adesanya continued. “But again, kudos to him because he invested in those. I did the same thing to him. His leg’s f—ed. But, he just got me better ... It was hard for me to attack with my wrestling because I was compromised because of his investment with the calf kicks. Trust me, when I had him, I’m dangerous on the ground, people just don’t realize that. But, I was compromised early on.”
Izzy joked that he wished renown late-stoppage referee Steve Mazzagatti was reffing the fight, and then maybe he would have still walked away with the title. Asked if he planned on making a quick return after the loss, Adesanya implied he had some health issues to take care of first.
What a life! . And still standing 10 toes deep in my light. Gratitude will always be my attitude, through the good, bad, ugly and the beautiful moments in this wild and crazy life. So thank you for the energy. Bless you xo pic.twitter.com/lTqNKCWODG— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) November 13, 2022
“I don’t disclose everything, I’ve had some stuff, some medical stuff that I put on the backburner,” he said. “Stuff that people have made fun of me for. I just gotta look after myself because my health comes first. Remember [Black Panther star] Chadwick Boseman, people making fun of him, ‘He looks so skinny, he looks so sleepy.’ Not knowing behind the scenes he was fighting cancer.
“People always make fun of my chest and other things, but they don’t know what’s going on in my life. I just keep that on the backburner, so I have some things to fix first. And yeah, I’ll be back.
“It’s not over yet,” Adesanya concluded. “I can take a lot from this fight.”
For complete UFC 281: “Adesanya Vs. Pereira” results and play-by-play, click HERE.
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