If Israel Adesanya keeps winning the way he has and continues to be as charismatic as he has been, there’s no telling how huge of a star he’ll be.
On Saturday night in the main event of UFC 243 down in Melbourne, “The Last Stylebender” made good on his promise to become undisputed UFC middleweight champion. The Nigerian used his incredible striking prowess to end Robert Whittaker’s reign as the king of the 185-pound division, knocking “The Reaper” out with a sizzling right-left hook combo to the jaw. His follow-up punches officially ended the fight at 3:33 of the second, mostly silencing the UFC-record crowd of 57,127 inside Docklands Stadium.
“I’m real petty,” a jovial-but-focused Adesanya said after his title-winning conquest. “I remember everything like an elephant. I was in the nose bleeds and now I made his nose bleed.”
Whittaker seemed out of sorts during the fight. The Aussie was launching haymakers from every angle, throwing wild punches with all his might. Adesanya (18-0) avoided virtually all of his punches and eventually countered him beautifully en route to planting his green and white flag atop the middleweight mountain.
“He threw everything we expected,” he said. “We had everything planned for plan A to Z. He caught me with a nice one, but I returned. I eat it, but give it back two times. That’s a two-piece right there. I can take it and give it back. He’s right, I hate to get hit. It’s stupid to get hit. I’m tough and smart. At the end of the day, my team and I were smart.”
Naturally, Adesanya used the spotlight to setu p his next possible fight by calling out Paulo Hernique Costa, a top contender sitting cageside who is expected to be next in line for a crack at the title.
“You know who’s next,” he said. “I have a heavy Ricky Martin wannabe next. ‘Borrachinha.’ This is my Octagon. I’m going to smash him. I want to rearrange his face.”
At the post-fight press conference, the 30-year-old new champion continued to rail against Costa.
“I like that fight because the casuals, they’re dumb,” he stated said. “They see a beefed-up beefcake like that, and they think ‘now that’s the guy.’ I’m still all hype, by the way. I’m still just a hype train. So they’ll see that and think that’s the guy. They just want to see me lose, but they’re going to be waiting for a long time.”
When asked to describe Costa’s fighting style and what he brings to the fight, Adesanya didn’t pull any punches in lambasting the undefeated Brazilian knockout artist.
“Basic,” he said. “Basic is just what I work on, my foundations. I have to work on my basic. Everyone that he fights is just a punching bag that stands there, just waiting to be hit. I can’t wait to fight him. I’m not impressed, to be honest.”