As if fighting a guy who’s defeated you three times in combat sports for your former belt wasn’t enough, Israel Adesanya was also gritting through a Grade 1 MCL tear leading into his second mixed martial arts (MMA) fight against Alex Pereira at UFC 287 earlier this month.
Adesanya revealed the injury — which didn’t stop him from scoring a second round knockout of Pereira — in a new video uploaded to his YouTube channel. He even included footage of the training incident where his knee was hurt as a training partner went for a trip takedown.
“I could feel it, but was like sometimes you gotta push through it,” Adesanya said. “F— it was painful. ‘It’s okay, it’s okay.’ I didn’t want anyone to freak out. I should have stopped. I remember the feeling as well. It was hot like a burning feeling ... I’ve been through worse. I’ve been through some s—. This was the week before fight week.”
Adesanya completed the training session before realizing how bad the injury was. Once his team assessed the situation, “The Last Stylebender” said there was no consideration given to pulling out of UFC 287.
“I’ve been here before,” he said. “My UFC debut, three weeks out, I did my right ankle ... So, that’s one. The Brunson fight, I hurt my knee three weeks beforehand. I remember pops saying take five days off and just do nothing. It was really bad.
“It’s all part of the story,” he continued. “This is meant to happen. I say, ‘Meant to,’ no one wants anything like this to happen, but if you can’t change your circumstances, change your perspective.
“So I was like, ‘This has happened. This is my perspective. This was meant to happen. I’ll overcome this,’ Adesanya added. “So, the comeback of getting from then to the cage was already a big win for me, because I was like ‘I beat that’ after doing that. Because that was really f—ing bad.
“But, I was like, if I can get through that and get to the cage? This fight, I can get through it,” Adesanya concluded. “So, it added to my confidence, added to my fortitude. I was like, they can’t break me.”
Adesanya didn’t blow out his MCL completely, which is good. A Grade 1 MCL tear takes a normal athlete about six weeks to heal up with rest. It’s no small thing to compete on, but Izzy made it clear that it’s part and parcel of being a fighter.
“Kamaru [Usman]’s been fighting without ACLs for how long?” Adesanya explained. “He broke his hand two weeks before the Colby fight. Merab [Dvalishvili] broke his hand before the Petr Yan fight. So every fighter has something. No one is ever truly 100 percent.”
Another plus of the injury being a quick healer is it means more “Stylebender” this year. Adesanya has already been in contact with UFC about another fight, and Dana White has said they’ll happily set that up.
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