Israel Mobolaji Odunayo Oluwafemi Temitayo Owolabi Adesanya is a well-known New Zealand professional mixed martial artist, kickboxer, and former boxer. He has won multiple championships in all three disciplines and is widely regarded as one of the best strikers in mixed martial arts.
Early Life and Education
Israel Adesanya was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and is the eldest of five children. His father, Oluwafemi, is an accountant, and his mother, Taiwo, is a nurse. Israel Adesanya participated in the Taekwondo after-school club at Chrisland School in Opebi, but his involvement was cut short due to an injury, resulting in his mother’s decision to remove him from the club. After spending 10 months in Ghana with his family, Adesanya settled in Rotorua, New Zealand, at age 10 and attended Rotorua Boys’ High School.
Interest in Martial Arts
During his high school days, Israel Adesanya didn’t show much interest in sports. Instead, he was captivated by Japanese anime like Naruto and Death Note. Unfortunately, Adesanya was a victim of bullying during his formative years, which he later cited as the driving force behind his pursuit of martial arts. After finishing high school, Adesanya enrolled at the Universal College of Learning in Whanganui, where he pursued a Bachelor of Science in Computer Design.
At the age of 18, Israel Adesanya started training in kickboxing after being inspired by the Muay Thai film Ong-Bak. Two years later, he decided to cease his studies and pursue a career in kickboxing. Adesanya went on to amass an amateur record of 32–0 before turning professional and fighting in China.
Mixed Martial Arts Career
When Israel Adesanya was 21 years old, he relocated to Auckland, New Zealand, with a goal to pursue mixed martial arts training. He commenced training under the guidance of Eugene Bareman at City Kickboxing, alongside notable UFC fighters including Kai Kara-France, Dan Hooker, and current UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski. Additionally, Adesanya received wrestling training from Andrei Păuleț, a Romanian-New Zealander, to further enhance his fighting skills.
Championships and Rankings
Israel Adesanya is a former UFC Middleweight Champion and former Glory Middleweight Championship title challenger. As of November 14, 2022, he is ranked #1 in the UFC middleweight rankings, and as of March 21, 2023, he is ranked #5 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
Israel Adesanya is fluent in Yoruba, Nigerian Pidgin, and English.
Israel Adesanya Kickboxing Career
Early Kickboxing Career
Israel Adesanya began his kickboxing career in May 2010, with a seven-fight winning streak that included a victory over Tim Atonio by unanimous decision. He then fought exclusively with Wu Lin Feng in China, winning his next six fights. Israel Adesanya participated in the 2014 Kunlun Fight 80 kg tournament, but lost in the semifinal against Simon Marcus by an extra round split decision.
King in the Ring Tournaments
Israel Adesanya then participated in the regional circuit in New Zealand, winning the King in the Ring Cruiserweights II tournament with a knockout of Jamie Eades. He also won the 2015 Cruiserweights III tournament with a first-round knockout of Pati Afoa. Moving up in weight, he also won the 2015 The Heavyweights III tournament, defeating Jamie Eades in the finals by unanimous decision.
Glory Middleweight Championship
Israel Adesanya won five of his next six fights, including victories over Yousri Belgaroui and Bogdan Stoica. He was defeated by Alex Pereira, the future GLORY Middleweight champion, who secured a unanimous decision victory over him. Israel Adesanya won the 2016 Glory Middleweight Contender Tournament with a split decision victory over Yousri Belgaroui. He then fought Jason Wilnis for the Glory Middleweight championship at Glory 37: Los Angeles, but lost by unanimous decision in a result considered controversial. Adesanya’s last kickboxing fight was a rematch with Alex Pereira at Glory of Heroes 7, where he was knocked out in the third round.
Professional Mixed Martial Arts Career Overview
In 2012, Israel Adesanya made his professional MMA debut, winning by TKO against James Griffiths. After taking a two-year break, he returned in 2015 with a TKO victory over Song Kenan, followed by a string of wins in Oceanian and Chinese circuits, including the AFC Middleweight Championship and Hex Fight Series Middleweight Championship.
In December 2017, Israel Adesanya signed with the UFC and won his debut fight against Rob Wilkinson at UFC 221. He went on to win his next three fights, including a victory over Derek Brunson, before facing former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva in a highly anticipated fight at UFC 234.
Israel Adesanya won the fight against Silva via unanimous decision, and later went on to win the interim UFC Middleweight Championship in a back-and-forth fight against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236, which was widely regarded as one of the best fights of the year.
Israel Adesanya then unified the Middleweight Championship with a knockout victory over Robert Whittaker at UFC 243, and successfully defended his title against Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa before moving up a weight class to challenge for the Light Heavyweight Championship against Jan Błachowicz at UFC 259, where he suffered his first loss in MMA via unanimous decision.
Israel Adesanya regained the Middleweight Championship by defeating Marvin Vettori in a rematch at UFC 263 and successfully defended it in a rematch against Robert Whittaker, who he had defeated two times previously, at UFC 271. Israel Adesanya’s victory against Robert Whittaker marked his third win against him. Israel Adesanya continued his winning streak by defeating Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision at UFC 276, earning him the Crypto.com Fan Bonus of the Night first place award. However, Israel Adesanya suffered his first loss at middleweight and lost his title to Alex Pereira via technical knockout in the fifth round at UFC 281. Pereira was a fighter who had previously beaten him twice in kickboxing. A rematch between Adesanya and Pereira is scheduled for UFC 287 on April 8, 2023.
Adesanya’s boxing career and controversies
Israel Adesanya commenced his professional boxing journey in November 2014, where he faced the two-time Australian champion Daniel Ammann in his debut match. He received one of two wildcards to participate in the cruiserweight Super 8 Boxing Tournament, headlined by Shane Cameron and Kali Meehan in Auckland, New Zealand. Israel Adesanya lost to Ammann controversially via unanimous decision in the quarter-finals, despite looking like the winner. He then entered the second cruiserweight series of the Super 8 tournament held in May 2015 at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch. The winner of the tournament received $25,000 NZD and a new car. Adesanya won his first fight against Asher Derbyshire by knocking him out in the second round. In the next fight, Adesanya won a majority decision against Lance Bryant. In the final, he defeated Brian Minto by split decision. Adesanya also fought in the 2015 Super 8 Cruiserweight tournament, winning his semifinal match against Zane Hopman and defending the cruiserweight crown with a unanimous decision win against Lance Bryant in the final.
In February 2020, Israel Adesanya faced criticism for his comments at the UFC 248 pre-fight press conference. He said he would make opponent Yoel Romero “crumble like the Twin Towers,” referring to the September 11 attacks. The following day, Adesanya apologized on his Instagram page, saying he chose the wrong euphemism and would be more careful with his words in the future.
Grant Robertson, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Sport in New Zealand, criticized Israel Adesanya’s “casual remarks” made on his Instagram account towards Kevin Holland on March 25, 2021. Adesanya wrote, “Bro, I will fuckin’ rape you.” Robertson criticized Adesanya for making light of the issue of rape, stating that it should be taken seriously and not be joked about. Adesanya later deleted the tweet.
Adesanya’s run-in with the law took place in November 2022, when he was apprehended at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on account of being in possession of brass knuckles, which is considered illegal. The incident caused quite a stir among his fans and fellow fighters alike, with many expressing their disappointment and concern over the situation.
Personal Life Israel Adesanya
Adesanya used to participate in dance competitions throughout New Zealand before he pursued fighting. He showcased his passion for dance through a choreographed walkout during his appearance in UFC 243.
In addition to his successful fighting career, Israel Adesanya is also known for his passion for anime. In fact, he has expressed his interest in creating an anime production company once he retires from the octagon. Adesanya’s nickname, “The Last Stylebender,” was inspired by the anime-influenced show, Avatar: The Last Airbender. He even has a tattoo of one of the show’s main characters, Toph Beifong, on his forearm.
In September 2020, Adesanya made history by becoming the first mixed martial arts athlete to secure a sponsorship deal with Puma. This endorsement deal further solidified his status as a major figure in the world of sports. Additionally, Adesanya was appointed as an ambassador for Stake.com in January 2021. As an ambassador, he helps promote the online betting platform and its services to his fans and followers.
How tall is Israel Adesanya.?
Israel Adesanya, a Nigerian-born mixed martial artist and former kickboxer, stands at 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm) tall. This height gives him an advantage in his fights, allowing him to use his long reach and agility to outmaneuver his opponents. Adesanya’s height has become a notable characteristic of his fighting style, as he is able to maintain distance and use his kicks and punches effectively from range.
Where is Israel Adesanya from.?
Israel Adesanya was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1989. However, he grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, where he moved with his family when he was 10 years old. Adesanya attended Rangitoto College on the North Shore of Auckland, where he discovered his passion for combat sports, specifically kickboxing. He started training in martial arts at the age of 18 and quickly made a name for himself in the New Zealand fight scene.
Who beat Israel Adesanya.?
Israel Adesanya has been beaten once in his professional mixed martial arts career. He lost to Jan Blachowicz in a light heavyweight title fight at UFC 259 on March 6, 2021. Prior to that loss, Adesanya had an undefeated record in MMA, with a total of 20 wins.
Who did Israel Adesanya lose to.?
Israel Adesanya lost his first MMA fight to Jan Blachowicz via unanimous decision on March 6, 2021, at UFC 259.
|Israel Adesanya Record|
|Professional record breakdown|
|25 matches||23 wins||2 losses|
|Loss||23–2||Alex Pereira||UFC 281||12-Nov-22||New York City, New York, United States||Lost the UFC Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||23–1||Jared Cannonier||UFC 276||2-Jul-22||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||22–1||Robert Whittaker||UFC 271||12-Feb-22||Houston, Texas, United States||Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||21–1||Marvin Vettori||UFC 263||12-Jun-21||Glendale, Arizona, United States||Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship.|
|Loss||20–1||Jan Błachowicz||UFC 259||6-Mar-21||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Light Heavyweight debut. For the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.|
|Win||20–0||Paulo Costa||UFC 253||27-Sep-20||Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates||Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship. Performance of the Night.|
|Win||19–0||Yoel Romero||UFC 248||7-Mar-20||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||18–0||Robert Whittaker||UFC 243||6-Oct-19||Melbourne, Australia||Won and unified the UFC Middleweight Championship. Performance of the Night.|
|Win||17–0||Kelvin Gastelum||UFC 236||13-Apr-19||Atlanta, Georgia, United States||Won the interim UFC Middleweight Championship. Fight of the Night.|
|Win||16–0||Anderson Silva||UFC 234||10-Feb-19||Melbourne, Australia||Fight of the Night.|
|Win||15–0||Derek Brunson||UFC 230||3-Nov-18||New York City, New York, United States||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||14–0||Brad Tavares||The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated Finale||6-Jul-18||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||13–0||Marvin Vettori||UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje||14-Apr-18||Glendale, Arizona, United States|
|Win||12–0||Rob Wilkinson||UFC 221||11-Feb-18||Perth, Australia||Performance of the Night.|
|Win||11–0||Stuart Dare||Hex Fighting Series 12||24-Nov-17||Melbourne, Australia||Won the vacant Hex Fight Series Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||10–0||Melvin Guillard||AFC 20||28-Jul-17||Melbourne, Australia||Won the AFC Middleweight Championship.|
|Win||9–0||Murad Kuramagomedov||Wu Lin Feng: E.P.I.C. 4||28-May-16||Henan, China|
|Win||8–0||Andrew Flores Smith||Glory of Heroes 2||7-May-16||Shenzhen, China|
|Win||7–0||Dibir Zagirov||Wu Lin Feng: E.P.I.C. 2||13-Mar-16||Henan, China|
|Win||6–0||Vladimir Katykhin||Wu Lin Feng: E.P.I.C. 1||13-Jan-16||Henan, China|
|Win||5–0||Gele Qing||Wu Lin Feng 2015: New Zealand vs. China||19-Sep-15||Auckland, New Zealand|
|Win||4–0||Maui Tuigamala||Fair Pay Fighting 1||5-Sep-15||Auckland, New Zealand|
|Win||3–0||Song Kenan||The Legend of Emei 3||8-Aug-15||Shahe, China|
|Win||2–0||John Vake||Shuriken MMA: Best of the Best||15-Jun-13||Auckland, New Zealand|
|Win||1–0||James Griffiths||Supremacy Fighting Championship 9||24-Mar-12||Auckland, New Zealand||Middleweight debut.|