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Israel Adesanya explains how he’s starting to fall into one same ‘issue’ Anderson Silva had during UFC title reign – MMA Root



Israel Adesanya explains how he’s starting to fall into one same ‘issue’ Anderson Silva had during UFC title reign

Israel Adesanya is one of the most dominant MMA champions today, and he proved it once again at UFC 271 when he defended his middleweight title against Robert Whittaker. But not everyone celebrated the performance. Adesanya’s close decision win over Whittaker was the third consecutive champion fight that lacked many of the highlights that had become Adesanya’s hallmark during his rise to the UFC title.

You need to travel back to September 2020 to find Adesanya’s final finish in his blinding victory over Paulo Costa. And during a studio performance on Wednesday Hour of MMAAdesanya admitted that his success in this regard has come at a cost.

“I’m starting to fall into this – not the trap, this problem,” Adesanya said on Hour of MMA. For example, I understand that [Anderson] Silva too. At UFC 97, he fought Thales Leites, he beat him, he beat him, but people said, “Oh, it was a boring fight.” I’m like that, no, it wasn’t. Yes, Thales didn’t really do much later because he was too scared to fight.

“Later [at UFC 271], we thought Rob would insist because you fell, his corner says he fell, but he just walked away. There was one moment when he was drifting and trying to trap me, and I thought, “This is my move,” and I returned to the center. And then he then went to the center and then we continued to fight.

“But yes, I’m starting to fall into that trap. Same thing with UFC 112, Abu Dhabi, Demian Maia and people were like, “Oh, [Silva is] this, he is this,” and they forget, they completely forget, and it’s just a prejudice against newness. But I had fun. This is one thing I’m happy about [about]. I had fun, I was present from the first tour to the last call. My last fight before this [against Marvin Vettori], I was not. I got bored because I thought, “This guy is no threat to me.” He poses no threat.

“But in this fight, I couldn’t afford to be bored,” Adesanya continued. “I couldn’t afford it because Rob would break you.”

Adesanya remains a perfect 11-0 middleweight in the UFC. He is ranked No. 2 in the Men’s MMA Fighting 185 lbs and has rarely been seriously challenged at 185 lbs. Even if Adesanya’s previous fight against Whittaker may not have been a truly memorable moment, he still outclassed Vettori from post to post and the outcome was never in doubt. However, the same cannot be said for UFC 271.

After a slow start, Whittaker proved strong in the championship rounds and endured the most intense test of any contender for the Adesanya middleweight title, posting far better results than he had lost to Adesanya by knockout at UFC 243 three years earlier.

Some in the MMA community even walked out of UFC 271 believing Whittaker had won, including Whittaker himself. This is an assumption that Adesanya strongly disagrees with, even if he would like to do some things differently.

“I wish I could really trust my gut and just stay left-handed because I was doing the work left-handed, man. I participated in this,” Adesanya said. “And the footage I was looking for wasn’t really on the orthodox side.

“In the first fight, I trusted my intuition and just went with the flow, and I beeped – we moved away from the game plan. But this time, after the first round, I wish I could just ask Eugene, “What dropped him?” I usually do this, but I didn’t want to focus on the past and then try to search for that frame again, so I just said, “No, don’t ask.” And if I knew it was left handed straight to the left [that may have helped]because in the middle of the fight, when I was left-handed, I felt so good and I thought, “I’m not left-handed, how [Yoel] Romero or [Kelvin] Gastelum, as if he was fighting. It’s different.”

That said, even if Whittaker did better in the rematch than at UFC 243, Adesanya still dismissed the idea that Whittaker deserved the judges’ decision as laughable.

“How the hell are you going to think you won when your corner tells you you’re losing the fight?” Adesanya said. “… I know I won the fight. There was no doubt in my mind.

“He and Vettori drink the same wine as Costa.”

As for what’s next for the champion, Adesanya confirmed that he hopes to return again in the summer, probably in June or July.

The two best middleweights currently in contention for the belt are Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland, both of whom are recent victories. But, according to Adesanya, there is no doubt that Cannonier can rightfully be considered his next enemy.

“He should be next. He’s next,” Adesanya said. “Strickland, I have other plans for him.

“I told Cannonier after [UFC 271] weighing in the morning, I thought, “Please take care of this dude [Derek Brunson] so I can get some fresh meat,” and then he agreed.”

Adesanya added that he plans to stay at 185 pounds this year, even if a return to 205 pounds remains his goal for the future. He wants to be a busy champion after only competing twice in the last two years, meaning he’s raising his hand early and often as the UFC begins fleshing out the rest of its 2022 schedule.

“Actually, I can do three [fights in 2022]”Adesanya said. “Press four.”