What Israel Adesanya has accomplished in a little more than five years on the roster is nothing less than stunning. The Nigerian-born New Zealander has become the definitive fighter of his era while doing things in his own unique way, and whether someone likes or dislikes the way he goes about his business, people tune in when “The Last Stylebender” competes.
Adesanya competes in his 10th consecutive title fight and 9th straight headlining bout when he goes for revenge against Alex Pereira at UFC 287 in Miami. The long-standing rivalry between the two is lopsided at the moment, but Pereira’s comeback win at UFC 281 seems to have caused some people to forget how dominant Adesanya has been to this point.
With that in mind, check out these fights to peek at the journey that led Adesanya here:
Adesanya vs Anderson Silva (UFC 234)
Thrust into the main event at the last minute after health problems forced Robert Whittaker to withdraw from his title defense against Kelvin Gastelum, Adesanya fought the consensus greatest middleweight of all-time, Anderson Silva, in Melbourne, Australia. The fight was highly anticipated and seen as a likely passing of the torch between two supremely talented strikers, and it delivered.
The contest was a 15-minute chess match, and at the end, “Spider” paid his respects to Adesanya.
Adesanya vs Derek Brunson (UFC 230)
The general thought heading into Adesanya’s top-10 test against Derek Brunson at UFC 230 was that we were going to really see what was up with this wiry, brash fighter from New Zealand. He made relatively easy work of Brad Tavares in his first main event, but Brunson presented real danger stylistically.
Fighting in Madison Square Garden for the first time, Adesanya aced the test with style points to boot, announcing himself as a true title contender.
Adesanya vs Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 236)
With Whittaker on the sidelines , Adesanya fought Gastelum for the interim middleweight title at UFC 236 in Atlanta in the co-main event, and they put on a fight for the ages. The shorter Gastelum proved dangerous early, touching Adesanya up and forcing him to dig deep.
Before the fifth round, you can see Adesanya mutter, “I am prepared to die,” and subsequently deliver a dominant final frame to stamp his claim on UFC gold. The bout was 2019’s Fight of the Year and perhaps the signature war of his career.
Adesanya vs Robert Whittaker 1 (UFC 243)
When Adesanya fought Whittaker to unify the middleweight title, a record-setting crowd poured into Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. In the biggest fight of his life, Adesanya decided to do a dance routine during his walkout with childhood friends to pay homage to his roots as a dancer.
He fought with the same blend of flair and focus, relatively dominating the undisputed champion until he ended things in the second round. The Adesanya Era had begun in emphatic fashion.
Adesanya vs Paulo Costa (UFC 253)
The biggest feud of Adesanya’s career likely came against Paulo Costa. The ultra-confident, then-undefeated Brazilian liked to poke fun at Adesanya’s lanky frame and promised to bring the fight to the champion unlike Yoel Romero, who Adesanya kept at bay the fight preceding theirs.
However, come fight night on Fight Island, Adesanya seemed untouchable and fought with a patient aggression that left Costa befuddled. In a career littered with dominant performances, Adseanya’s TKO win over Costa might have been his most authoritative.
UFC 287: Pereira vs Adesanya 2 took place live from Kayesa Center in Miami, Florida on April 8, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!