There’s only one Israel Adesanya.
Adesanya’s last win over Alex Pereira via second round knockout (watch highlights) made him the first two-time Middleweight champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history. Overall, the win was his eighth in a UFC title bout.
Before his loss to Pereira in their first mixed martial arts (MMA) encounter this past Nov. 2022 (watch highlights), “The Last Stylebender” was racking up title defenses left and right, collecting five before halted. Now back on top and continuing to make history at age 33, Adesanya acts as motivation for his fellow rising stars like Sean O’Malley, who gets his first shot at UFC gold against Bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, at UFC 292 next month (Aug. 19, 2023).
“‘Izzy’ has been the best champ UFC’s ever seen,” O’Malley said on the TimboSugarShow. “The amount of times he’s fought consistently as a champion in the UFC is f—king legendary.”
While O’Malley preps for his chance at holding a championship, another UFC Sean may be in the immediate future for Adesanya.
The Middleweight kingpin recently hinted at his expected next challenger, Dricus Du Plessis, sustaining a foot injury that will prevent him from fighting at UFC 293 on Sept. 10, 2023. Therefore, leading to the possibility of Sean Strickland taking Du Plessis’ spot, which the contender has since revealed is being discussed.
Despite the possible change of plans atop the 185-pound division, O’Malley is still fully onboard with the backup option.
“Adesanya vs. Strickland is probabaly going to be next,” O’Malley said. “Who did [Jared] Cannonier just fight? Marvin [Vettori], that’s right. Looked good against Marvin, beat Sean Strickland, but already lost to Adesanya. I wonder if Jared’s like, ‘What the f—k?’ or you get the game and you’re like, ‘Okay, Sean Strickland’s a f—king character.’
“If you’re the UFC, I don’t know if you want Sean Strickland as your UFC champion,” he continued. “His takes are so — him going on podcasts saying, ‘I crave killing people.’ He wants that [attention]. No one’s going to f—k with him. That’s what he wants. ‘Izzy’ vs. [Strickland], I’m hyped for that. I will watch that, I’ll buy that, I’m excited for that.”