Israel Adesanya bounced back from a disappointing loss at light heavyweight in March of 2021 to blank middleweight contender Marvin Vettori 50-45 on all three judges scorecards. It was a slick performance that showed some growth in the grappling department and reaffirmed “The Last Stylebender” as a tough man to beat on the feet (watch the highlights here). But it wasn’t Izzy’s best performance, at least as far as Adesanya himself was concerned.
“I wanna watch the fight again, I still haven’t had my moment to myself after the fight where i get to reflect on everything,” Adesanya said at the UFC 263 post-fight press conference. “I’m excited that i was a clean sweep. I’m excited I had fun in there. I’m excited I was able to be lucid and just listen to my coaches well and just excel. But I would still give myself a C+.”
I’m slowly starting to accept it as a great performance but right now ... I wanted to punch him in the face more, but credit to him and his boxing coach, they improved their boxing a bit. So I think they thought that would be enough, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough.”
“I did have fun, I will say that,” he added. “There was a point, my favorite bit of the fight was when he thought he had a rear naked choke and he probably got excited like ‘Yes this is it, my moment!’ And I wasn’t even bothered or threatened, I turned it on him and I put his hand on his neck, like that X rated shit when you choke someone and you look them in the eyes, and I swear to God I saw his soul leave his eyes, I saw it.”
“And I said to him ‘You’re scared, aren’t you?’ I said that to him, find the tape. And I felt very powerful in that moment, just taking his soul away. But he’s tough, I’ll give him that. But that moment was very powerful because I took hope away from him.”
The question arose as to whether Adesanya had a newfound respect for Vettori after sharing the cage for five rounds.
“Taking damage doesn’t equal earning respect,” Israel said. “But do I respect him? I don’t know, because at the end of the fight I was like ‘You can at least say I won this one’ and he was like ‘What, I won that!’ And I was like ah no, we can’t, we can’t. I just can’t. Eric Cartman mentality, you gotta believe your own bullshit sometimes. Like I said, I believe in my own hype, but wow after that and he thinks he won? Who’s believing their own hype?”
“So my advice would be look in the mirror and be like ‘Look, Israel is better than you. Izzy is way better than you. You couldn’t do shit to him. But I’m going to get better from this.’ And I swear to you, his next fight will improve if he does the work right. But you gotta let it go. Gotta let it go.”
As for what’s next, UFC president Dana White confirmed that they’d be working on a Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker rematch. But due to the continued international restrictions on COVID-19, Auckland would be off the table if he wanted to return in October as he told the UFC.
“I don’t wait around, you know me,” Adesanya said. “This is my third fight in nine months. I don’t wait around like the rest of these champions who talk about being active. I don’t talk about it, I just do it. I’m an active champion. So I’m putting it out there into the universe, into the ether that I want it in Auckland. But I don’t like too much free time, especially right now when I’m in my prime.”
“We could open Fight Island number three, third time maybe? Or maybe back in America somewhere. But it would be so awesome if we could do it in Auckland, my home turf.”