Israel Adesanya. Source: UFC

Israel Mobolaji Temitayo Odunayo Oluwafemi Owolabi Adesanya (born 22 July 1989) is a Nigerian-born New Zealand MMA fighter and former kickboxer and boxer.

He is presently signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as a mixed martial artist, where he is the UFC Middleweight Champion.

He is a former Glory Middleweight Championship title challenger in kickboxing. He is currently ranked third in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings as of June 14, 2021.

Source: AP

Adesanya is largely considered to be one of the best strikers in MMA.

Early life

Source: Childhood Biography

Adesanya was the eldest of five children born in Lagos, Nigeria. Oluwafemi, his father, is an accountant, and Taiwo, his mother, is a nurse. Adesanya attended Chrisland School in Opebi and was a member of its Taekwondo after-school group until his mother removed him due to an injury.

He moved to Ghana with his family for 10 months in 1999, but due to his parent’s desire for their children to acquire a well-recognised higher education, he settled in Rotorua, New Zealand at the age of 10 and attended Rotorua Boys’ High School.

During high school, Adesanya was uninterested in sports, preferring to watch Japanese anime such as Death Note and Naruto. Adesanya was bullied in high school and credits his desire to pursue martial arts later in life to the maltreatment he endured.

Early career

Source: YouTube

Adesanya won the first of his seven bouts winning run in May 2010, defeating Tim Atonio by unanimous decision. He won his next six fights in China, nearly all against Wu Lin Feng. His winning streak won him a spot in the Kunlun Fight 80 kg competition in 2014, which was held during Kunlun Fight 2.

He was defeated by Simon Marcus in an extra round split decision in the semifinals. Adesanya then made his Glory debut against Filip Verlinden at Glory 15. Verlinden was victorious by unanimous decision.  

Three months after their initial bout, the two fought again at Glory of Heroes 3, with Adesanya winning by unanimous decision.

Adesanya competed in the regional circuit’s King in the Ring Cruiserweights II competition in New Zealand. He overcame Slava Alexeichik by unanimous decision in the quarterfinals, Pati Afoa by knockout in the semifinals, and Jamie Eades by knockout to win the competition.

He competed in the 2015 Cruiserweights III competition six months later. He won the competition for the second time with a first-round knockout of Pati Afoa after technical knockouts of Kim Loudon and Mark Timms in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

Source: SportsBible

Moving up in weight, Adesanya competed in The Heavyweights III in 2015. He TKO’d Nase Foai in the quarterfinals and KO’d Dan Roberts in the semifinals before fighting Jamie Eades in the finals. They had previously faced each other in the final of the 2014 Cruiserweight competition. Adesanya was victorious in the tournament final by a unanimous vote.

Records

Glory Middleweight Championship (Kickboxing)

Source: GLORY Kickboxing

Adesanya then went on to win five of his next six fights, including wins over Yousri Belgaroui and Bogdan Stoica. His defeat occurred at the hands of Alex Pereira, the eventual GLORY Middleweight champion, who won by unanimous decision.

Adesanya competed in the Glory Middleweight Contender Tournament in 2016. In the semifinals, he defeated Robert Thomas by unanimous decision, and he won the event by split decision over Yousri Belgaroui. At Glory 37: Los Angeles, he faced Jason Wilnis for the Glory Middleweight championship. Wilnis won the bout by unanimous decision, despite the fact that the outcome was deemed contentious.

His final kickboxing bout before switching to MMA was a rematch with Alex Pereira at Glory of Heroes 7. Pereira won the fight by knockout after down Adesanya in the third round with a short left hook.

Professional mixed martial arts career

Source: UFC

It was announced in December 2017 that Adesanya has signed a contract with the UFC. On February 11, 2018, at UFC 221, he made his debut against Rob Wilkinson. In the second round, he won via technical knockout. With this triumph, he received the Performance of the Night bonus.

Adesanya made his professional debut in 2012, defeating James Griffiths via TKO. He won another TKO fight against John Vake before taking a two-year vacation from MMA. He returned to MMA in August 2015, winning by TKO over Song Kenan. He went on to collect an 8–0 record, largely battling in the Oceanian and Chinese circuits.

During this period, he won the AFC Middleweight Championship at Australia Fighting Championship 20 with a first-round TKO over Melvin Guillard, as well as the Hex Fight Series Middleweight Championship with a first-round KO over Stuart Dare.

Adesanya’s next fight was against Marvin Vettori on April 14, 2018, at UFC on Fox 29. He won the match by a vote of two to one.

UFC Middleweight Championship

Source: UFC

In the co-main event of UFC 236 on April 13, 2019, Adesanya faced Kelvin Gastelum for the interim UFC Middleweight Championship. He was victorious by unanimous decision in the back-and-forth fight. This bout earned him the title of Fight of the Night. The bout was largely rated as the greatest of the year, receiving nominations from the majority of MMA news outlets.

Prizefighting tournaments

In November 2014, Adesanya made his professional boxing debut against two-time Australian champion Daniel Ammann. He received one of two wildcards to the inaugural cruiserweight Super 8 Boxing Tournament.

Shane Cameron and Kali Meehan headlined the event, which took place at Auckland’s North Shore Events Centre. He lost a contentious unanimous decision after appearing to have outpointed Ammann in the quarter-finals.

Source: NZ Herald.

In May 2015, Adesanya re-entered the Super 8 tournament, which was held in Horncastle Arena in Christchurch. The winner of the second cruiserweight series received NZD 25,000 and a new automobile.

In his debut professional fight, he defeated fellow New Zealander Asher Derbyshire, who was seeded first. In the second round, Adesanya knocked out his opponent. Adesanya defeated Lance Bryant by majority decision in the tournament’s second fight. In the tournament final, he won a split decision over Brian Minto.

Adesanya competed in the Super 8 Cruiserweight event in 2015. He won a unanimous decision against Zane Hopman in the semifinals and defended his cruiserweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Lance Bryant in the final.

Personal life

Adesanya used to compete in dance contests all around New Zealand before taking up fighting. In a choreographed walkout at UFC 243, he showcased his love of dance.

Adesanya enjoys anime and hopes to launch an anime production firm after he retires from fighting. His moniker “The Last Stylebender” refers to the anime-influenced animation series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Toph Beifong, one of the show’s key characters, is tattooed on Adesanya’s forearm.

In September 2020, he became the first MMA fighter to sign a sponsorship agreement with Puma. In addition, Adesanya was signed as an ambassador for Stake.com in January 2021.

Mixed martial arts record

Professional record breakdown
22 matches21 wins1 loss
By knockout150
By decision61

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