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Israel Adesanya explains how ‘growth and maturity’ ended Jon Jones beef: ‘Real recognize real’

UFC 287: Pereira v Adesanya 2 Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Israel Adesanya’s beef with Jon Jones is behind him.

For a brief spell, a fantasy pairing between Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions, Adesanya and Jones, looked to be a real possibility. Adesanya had freshly become his 185-pound division’s champion around the time Jones decided he was done at 205 pounds in early 2020, vacating his title in pursuit of Heavyweight. Ultimately, Adesanya did make the attempt at grabbing Light Heavyweight gold, but it came after Jones had left, making all hopes of ever seeing the encounter dissolve.

In 2023, both have refrained from firing the verbal jabs at each other that they previously were and are even content to openly express their respect for each other.

“Growth is something you have to go through as a human being, as a man especially. Maturity,” Adesanya said on IMPAULSIVE. “There was a point where we were ... ah, f—k. I came to the UFC, I felt like — it’s up to him to admit this — he was a fan but then he was kind of like, ‘Ah, there’s another coming in this game and just taking the shine.’ But there’s enough room for us to shine. This is not like a — I even said it about Henry Cejudo when he was talking s—t about me — I’m not even in your weight class, you’re a munchkin. You don’t have to hate on me for doing what I’m doing. We can be in our own lanes and be great.

“I’ve been a fan of Jon since I saw him at UFC [94],” he continued. “He fought Stephan Bonnar, rest in peace. I saw what he did in that fight and I saw a fan. I think he was [of me] as well. Then he mentioned something like, ‘Oh, I’d like to fight Israel.’ Why the f—k does this guy want to fight me? I’m Middleweight. But then I responded back and we had beef. For a few years, it was like that then after I fought [Paulo] Costa it went really deep then that was around the time it could have happened but I don’t know what happened, scheduling, COVID reasons, whatever. I fought Jan [Blachowicz]. Yeah. Real recognize real, I’ll put it that way.”

Since the banter between Adesanya and Jones, the latter has re-entered the UFC fold, capturing the Heavyweight title in March 2023 with a first round guillotine choke over Ciryl Gane (watch highlights). Adesanya, on the other hand, reclaimed his Middleweight title one month later (April 8, 2023) by knocking out Alex Pereira with a second round two-punch combo (watch highlights).

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