For all the talk of watered down UFC events, UFC 221 from Perth, Australia certainly had more than its fair share of exciting prospects scattered through the undercard. Tai Tuivasa is quickly cementing his reputation as the next coming of Mark Hunt and rugby player turned fighter Alex Volkanovski showed potential to be a big Aussie star.
Then there New Zealand’s Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya, who came into the UFC with a crazy highlight reel of kickboxing finishes and managed to carry those skills over into the Octagon.
Ladies & Gentlemen, Israel Adesanya has arrived. Middleweight has a new player. #UFC221 pic.twitter.com/P0JvGq79N5— UFC India (@UFCIndia) February 11, 2018
Adesanya’s win over Rob Wilkinson was so good it earned him a performance of the night bonus, and the UFC went ahead and replayed his fight after the main event for those who hadn’t tuned in to see it during the FOX Sports 1 prelims. He displayed a lot of promise in his violent beatdown, and his brash post-victory speech had a lot of people comparing him to Conor McGregor.
”The Last Stylebender” himself didn’t hesitate to make similar associations.
”The pressure has been the same since the jump, since 2008 when I started fighting,” Adesanya said. “After my first fight people were like ‘Wow, look out for this guy’ and it’s been growing, following me. Pretty sure I had more hype than Conor [McGregor] before he jumped into the UFC. Now people know who I am and it’s time to work.”
If Adesanya has his way, you’ll be seeing him again soon.
”Hey, in 2016 I fought over 20 times,” he told Submission Radio. “And not like gimme fights, the Chinese were trying to kill me so they were giving me killers. So yeah, I’m not new at this, I like staying active. I’m gonna have a week off just to chill, let my hair down. I’m going to go out on a boat here with my crew and get some things done. But everyone’s going to try and call me out now so I’ll leave it to you guys to fight over who wants to fight me next.”
”I’ve got a four fight contract, I’m going to get through that this year and then yeah, probably top 10 by next year. I see that happening. I’m in the UFC now, I’ve felt the buzz, deja-vu, same thing different day. Yeah, I want to be in the top 10 by next year but who knows, could be this year!”