CAPE TOWN – Say what you like about Africa’s mixed martial arts superstar Israel Adesanya, but you have to give the man credit for remaining so active.
In a professional era that sees so many ‘champions’ pick and choose when and whom they want to fight, the UFC middleweight king does not shy away from challenges, and will always remain active and put his reputation and belt on the line.
Since February 2019, the now-New Zealand resident has stepped into the octagon on six occasions.
At one point, Israel (20-1) called out one of the scariest men on the-then UFC roster, Yoel Romero (13-5) even when the former was not forced to do so.
UFC President Dana White of all people will tell you that most athletes were not inclined to call out the Cuban Olympic wrestler because of the threat he brings.
“Israel wants to fight Yoel because he feels that his legacy will not be complete if he does not beat Yoel Romero,” said Dana before Israel went on to beat the Cuban in their championship bout in March last year.
Israel’s last fight against light heavyweight champion, Poland’s Jan Blachowicz saw him step up a division to compete for double championship status and to entice fans with the potential super fight with ‘rival’ and one of the most (if not the most) talented and dangerous men to grace the octagon, former light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 No contest).
The Blachowicz bout did not go his way as he was outclassed by the Polishman, however, it showed the man’s gusto and grit to not fear losing aura and clout as so many athletes do these days.
The man aims to purely build his legacy smartly and actively, too even though he received criticism from Jones for allegedly not taking that fight which he stated will come when the time is right.
Jon has since moved up to heavyweight as he tries to run that division, too. And while that is happening, Israel will continue to focus on ruling the middleweight division.
This weekend, at UFC263, the man known as Izzy or the Last Stylebender will give former opponent, Italy’s Marvin Vettori (17-4-1) another opportunity after the two met back in 2018 in the former’s second appearance in the UFC at UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs Gaethje.
Marvin is convinced he won that bout which ended in a split decision much to the frustration of Israel who has tried on numerous occasions to make Vettori understand that he had lost the bout.
Both athletes had since gone on an upward trajectory and Vettori has earned his shot at the title now following five consecutive wins since that loss to Israel.
This time, Israel feels that he will and simply has to stop Vettori to convince the divided sporting community that he is the superior fighter.
“The judges are gonna be removed from the equation this time, guarantee you, 100 percent, they are going to be removed from the equation, I’ll guarantee you that,” Adesanya said in a UFC promo video on Instagram.
The UFC 263 show, to take place in Arizona, will be broadcast live on SuperSport (SS Action, SS Grandstand, SS Maximo, SS Variety 3) from 4am (CAT), Sunday morning.
The rest of the card
Flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1, fighting out of Condor Belem, Para, Brazil) will run the championship rematch with Brandon Moreno (18-5-2, fighting out of Tijuana, Mexico).
Welterweights Leon Edwards (18-3, 1 NC, fighting out of Birmingham, England) and UFC superstar Nate Diaz (21-12, fighting out of Stockton, Calif.) will throw down for a shot at Kamaru Usman’s title.
In a battle of welterweight contenders, No. 9 ranked Demian Maia (28-10, fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil) locks horns with No. 12 Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC, fighting out of Chicago, Ill.)
Ranked light heavyweights collide as No. 14 Paul Craig (14-4-1, fighting out of Coatbridge, Scotland) and No. 15 Jamahal Hill (8-0, fighting out of Kentwood, Mich.) vie to break into the top 10
No. 13 ranked lightweight contender Drew Dober (23-10, 1 NC, fighting out of Denver, Colo.) and Brad Riddell (9-1, fighting out of Auckland, New Zealand) face off in an action-packed bout
In a light heavyweight bout, Eryk Anders (13-5, 1 NC, fighting out of Birmingham, Ala.) meets Darren Stewart (12-6, fighting out of London, England)
No. 3 ranked women’s flyweight Lauren Murphy (14-4, fighting out of Houston, Texas) seeks to secure her first UFC title shot by taking out No. 6 Joanne Calderwood (15-5, fighting out of Glasgow, Scotland)
An intriguing featherweight bout sees undefeated No. 14 ranked Movsar Evloev (14-0, fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla. by way of Ingushetia, Russia) take on No. 15 Hakeem Dawodu (12-1-1, fighting out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
No. 11 ranked women’s bantamweight contender Pannie Kianzad (15-5, fighting out of Helsingborg, Skane County, Sweden) goes for the biggest win in her career against former title challenger Alexis Davis (20-10, fighting out of Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada)
Frank Camacho (22-9, fighting out of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands) and Matt Frevola (8-2-1, fighting out of Long Island, N.Y.) clash in a lightweight bout all but guaranteed to entertain
Featherweight prospect Chase Hooper (10-1-1, fighting out of Enumclaw, Wash.) plans to show off his evolving skillset when he battles veteran Steven Peterson (18-9, fighting out of Dallas, Texas)
Fares Ziam (11-3, fighting out of Givors, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France) and Luigi Vendramini (9-1, fighting out of Brasilia, Brazil) compete in an exciting lightweight bout
Heavyweights Carlos Felipe (10-1, fighting out of State of Bahia, Brazil) and Jake Collier (12-5, fighting out of Cuba, Mo.) look to steal the show and climb the ranks.