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Decoding Israel Adesanya’s anime references

At UFC 259 this weekend (Sat., March 6, 2021), Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya attempts to become the fifth UFC fighter in history to hold two belts at the same when he challenges 205-pound kingpin, Jan Blachowicz.

He does this not just because of the fame or the money, but because of his philosophy on martial arts and his desire to establish a legacy for himself as one of the greatest fighters to ever live. And where does much of the framework he’s built up over the years regarding martial arts come from?

Anime.

Yes, Israel Adesanya is an otaku. He’d even describe himself as a “weeb.” And while we’re certainly not going to put a derogatory spin on his love of Japanimation, we will say that his passion for Naruto and The Last Airbender goes far deeper than your average fan. There is no “Last Stylebender” without The Last Airbender.

Indeed, Adesanya is the self-declared Jinchuriki possessed by the nine tails demon. And he plans to unlock the chakra power within himself to become the greatest fighter in history.

So join us as Combat Culture digs deep on Adesanya’s anime references and how they play into his ambitions to win a second (and perhaps third) belt. From Izzy’s favorite show to the anime tattoos on his body to the anime character he named his $600,000 sports car after, we have decoded the obvious (and not-so obvious) callbacks to Naruto, The Last Airbender, Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist, and more.


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 259 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 259: “Blachowicz vs. Adesanya” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.