With his highlight-reel win over Alex Pereira at UFC 287 this past weekend in Miami, Fla., Israel Adesanya has now defeated everyone in the current Middleweight Top 5. That leaves him in a bit of a bind as far as future opponents, especially since his coach Eugene Bareman seems very insistent that “The Last Stylebender” get some new challenges moving forward.
In a new interview with Submission Radio, Bareman shared his thoughts on who might be next ... and who might not.
“New blood coming through,” he said. “The South African lad [Dricus Du Plessis], I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched one of his fights yet. But, I do remember the lad, I spent a couple weeks with him at Tiger, and I remember he had a twin brother. Obviously, a very nice lad then, and obviously now he’s gotten in the UFC and is doing a whole promotional thing. But I think he’s a nice lad.”
“And [Sean] Strickland’s still there,” he added. “Strickland will always give you an entertaining fight.”
As for who he’s not interested in?
“We don’t have to fight Pereira, Robert [Whittaker], Marvin Vettori again,” Bareman said. Asked about Khamzat Chimaev, he countered, “Has Khamzat fought at Middleweight yet?
“We can’t be ridiculous,” he continued. “This is the most prestigious title in the sport, okay? Sometimes business takes precedent, I understand that. But you’re gonna give the guy a title shot? You’re just devaluing the organization, you’re devaluing the sport, you’re devaluing everything that we’re stood for in terms of the middleweight title and what we’ve done, what Anderson’s done, what GSP’s done, what Bisping’s done when he won the title. You’re just devaluing all of that.”
Another name Bareman sounded interested in was Light Heavyweight champion, Jamahal Hill, despite Adesanya’s 0-1 UFC record at 205 pounds.
“Let’s do it — let’s do it,” he said at the suggestion.
“Every fighter that you fight with flaws, and it’s up to the opponent and the team to take advantage of them,” he said about the match-up. “Jamahal Hill ... I haven’t seen him fight yet, I don’t think. But I don’t watch the fights, I just watch my guys fight. I don’t watch UFC fights. I’m sure he’s a very tough champ. If you’re a world champion, you’re best of the best. I’m sure he’s a very tough fight. I’ve seen him at the afterparty, I’m sure he’s a nice fella. But it’s not about that, it’s about challenges, mate. When you get to this level it’s about challenges.
“Let’s do it,” he finished. “Sign it, get it done, boys.”
Adesanya’s last foray up to 205 pounds didn’t end too well. His team thought Jan Blachowicz looked like a ripe target for Izzy to face for “double champ” glory. Instead, Blachowicz decisioned “The Last Stylebender” with relative ease, winning a 49–46, 49–45, 49–45 decision.
It may not be the best idea for Adesanya to try another run at Light Heavyweight, but as his coach says: it’s about challenges, right?
For complete UFC 287 results and coverage click here.