UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya has confessed that there is one thing he has in common with former 205lb title holder, Jon Jones.
At UFC 281 this weekend, Adesanya is set to take on one of his biggest tests to date, facing off against kickboxing phenom, Alex Pereira. ‘The Last Stylebender’ has already tasted defeat twice at the hands of Pereira, albeit in kickboxing. Five years later, he has the chance to get one back over his former foe.
Adesanya is one of the most dominant champions in the promotion right now, having never lost a fight at his natural weight class. However, whilst Adesanya’s rise to the top was a sight to behold, with incredible wins over the likes of Derek Brunson and Kelvin Gastelum, his time at the top has been somewhat less of a spectacle. ‘The Last Stylebender’ has defended his belt against all that have attempted to take it from him, but his title defenses against Yoel Romero, Marvin Vettori, and most recently Jared Cannonier left fans wanting to see more.
As a result, Adesanya has found himself receiving notable backlash from fans on social media. In a recent interview with TMZ Sports, he addressed this fan reaction, stating:
“It’s because you’re great. I’ve said this. It happened to Anderson Silva, it’s happened to GSP — even happened to Jon Jones at one point. Yeah, when you’re as great as I am and you’re on top for so long, they wanna shake the snow globe a little bit,” Israel Adesanya said. “They wanna see, ‘What if he loses? What’s gonna happen?’ (h/t MMA News)
He continued to say, “I did lose in the Jan fight, and I didn’t give them the reaction that they wanted. They expected me to be like, ‘Ah! No!’ [simulates wrist-cutting gesture] I was just like, ‘Yep, cool, what’s next?’ That’s just me. But yeah, people do want you to lose when you’re as great as I am. Society does that, it builds you up just so it can tear you down. But not today.”
Jon Jones and Israel Adesanya appeared to be building a rivalry prior to Jones’ announcement that his future is at heavyweight. However, this announcement was in 2020, and ‘Bones’ is yet to compete.