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Midnight Mania! Israel Adesanya falling into Anderson Silva ‘trap’ against opponents ‘scared to engage’

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Israel Adesanya defended his Middleweight title for the fourth time last Saturday (Feb. 12, 2022) at UFC 271 vs. the highly regarded Robert Whittaker, but “Stylebender” is still catching flak.

After his win, I wrote about the risks of fighting conservatively and winning on small margins. Some, like top Lightweight contender Michael Chandler, had harsher takes, comparing Adesanya’s title bout to a sparring match, and some viewers even scored the fight for Whittaker entirely.

In Adesanya’s opinion, a big part of the criticism is due to his opponent’s lack of aggression. As happened in several Anderson Silva title fights, Adesanya’s opponents realize just how damn good he is on the counter, and they refuse to engage from that point forward. Silva also received criticism for some of his less eventful title wins, but ultimately, it gets forgotten over time.

“I’m starting to fall into this — not a trap, this issue,” Adesanya said on The MMA Hour (via MMAFighting). “Like, I realize that [Anderson] Silva had as well. UFC 97, he fought Thales Leites and he beat him up, pieced him up, but people were like, ‘Oh, it was a boring fight.’ I’m like, no, it wasn’t. Yeah, Thales didn’t really do much later on, because he was too scared to engage.

“Later on [at UFC 271], we thought Rob was going to press the action, because you’re down, his corner’s saying he’s down, but he was just moving away. There was one point he was drifting and trying to set me up for a trap, and I was like, ‘That’s my move,’ and I went back to the center. And then he then came to the center and then we kept on fighting.

If there’s a silver lining for Adesanya, he still enjoyed himself vs. a dangerous opponent in “The Reaper,” unlike his previous fight vs. Marvin Vettori. Adesanya had to remain focused for the whole 25 minutes, because he does seem to respect Whittaker’s skills despite the occasional trash talk.

“But yeah, I’m starting to fall into that trap. Same thing with UFC 112, Abu Dhabi, Demian Maia, and people were just like, ‘Oh, [Silva is] this, he’s that,’ and they forget, they completely forget, and it’s just recency bias. But I had fun. That’s one thing I’m glad [about]. I had fun, I was present from the first round to the last bell. My last fight before that, I wasn’t. I got bored, because I was just like, ‘This guy’s not a threat to me. He doesn’t pose any threat.’

“But this fight, I could not afford to get bored,” Adesanya continued. “I could not afford to have that, because Rob will crack you.”

Next up for Adesanya is likely Jared Cannonier, a fellow striker known for his knockout power. It remains to be seen, however, if Cannonier will continue to push forward after getting a sense of Adesanya’s skills.


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