Reigning middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, captured a unanimous decision victory over 185-pound power puncher Jared Cannonier in UFC 276’s main event on July 2, 2022, in Las Vegas, the fifth straight title defense for “The Last Stylebender.”
Unfortunately for the Nigerian-born Kiwi, not everyone has been impressed with his recent run (including this movie star). Adesanya, who turns 33 later this month, has nine decisions in 13 wins for UFC and has gone to the judges’ scorecards in his last four title fights.
Former UFC double-champ, Henry Cejudo, who was on the scene at T-Mobile Arena as both spectator and heckler for UFC 276, wants the promotion to stop wasting precious main event slots on a “lame” fighter like Adesanya, who “hypes a lot and doesn’t deliver.”
“It’s crazy when you come out to The Undertaker [theme song] and you didn’t put on a performance,” Cejudo said on YouTube. “It was lame, dude. You gotta start giving, main events are special, dude. If he’s not performing, UFC, stop pushing this dude. He’s a decision maker. The only fight I can say he really beat somebody really good was (Robert) Whittaker, knocking him out. Paulo (Costa)? I don’t know where the hell his head was at.”
A recent look at stats among active UFC champions (plus Charles Oliveira, who many consider to still be champ despite this debacle) may corroborate Cejudo’s complaint.
Maybe it’s time to resurrect the yellow card?
“He hypes a lot, and he doesn’t deliver,” Cejudo continued. “He talks a lot, and he doesn’t deliver. It’s been like that with him for a minute now. And I think if you’re gonna call people out and do all this other stuff, finish them. Put a beating on people. Be spectacular. People look forward more to his entrance than his actual fight, and that’s a problem because what you do wanna be good at is when you fight.”
Those aren’t the only stats worth mentioning.
To his credit, Adesanya ranked No. 4 among pound-for-pound fighters with the strongest chins and No. 2 on the list of the promotion’s pound-for-pound deadliest strikers, according to Bookmakers.com, statistics that include both champions and non-champions alike.
Pound-for-pound strongest chins:
Pound-for-pound deadliest strikers:
Adesanya is not the only dominant champion to rack up multiple decisions. Former welterweight kingpin, Georges St-Pierre, one of the sport’s most beloved titleholders, finished his welterweight career with seven straight nods (all unanimous).
A fighter’s job is to win. A promoter’s job is to sell tickets. The formula works best when they can meet somewhere in the middle. Otherwise, you have to “eat what you kill” and hope for the best, for better or worse.