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FutureStarrIsrael Adesanya Octagon Interview: How many knockouts does Israel Adesanya have?
Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira have forged an intense rivalry. To date, they've engaged in nine bouts - three kickboxing matches and two UFC encounters.
On Saturday night at UFC 287 in Miami, Adesanya emerged victorious over Pereira with two devastating right hands - providing him with the type of moment that he had been searching for since their initial fights. It was truly the moment of redemption that Adesanya had been waiting for.
Sports rivalries require quality foes who can produce thrilling moments, and Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira have built one such fight over years. On Saturday night at UFC 287 in the main event, Adesanya wrote their most thrilling chapter yet by reclaiming his middleweight championship with a devastating second-round knockout over Pereira.
Adesanya (24-2) entered the fight with an impressive 8-1 record, having previously defended his title five times - including an incredible victory over Marvin Vettori at UFC 263. His only loss came when he faced off against Jan Blachowicz for his light heavyweight belt at UFC 259; nonetheless, Adesanya quickly cemented himself as one of the top fighters in the world.
Last year, Adesanya lost his first title defense against Pereira but hasn't let that setback define him. Instead, it has served to motivate him and push him towards greater heights in his game.
After losing to Pereira in their initial meeting, Adesanya insisted on getting a rematch and was granted one. Some suggested he should have taken some time off to regain confidence before facing off against the Brazilian, but Adesanya wasn't having that.
His determination to win a title rematch was unwavering and he delivered with gusto in the fight of his life, stunning Pereira with a second-round knockout to reclaim his UFC middleweight title. It was an unforgettable night for Adesanya and he will need to use that momentum when taking on Paulo Costa at UFC 253 on September 26th, 2020.
In the co-main event, Gilbert Burns proved he's more than just a one-hit wonder with an impressive win over Jorge Masvidal. The South Florida native controlled every moment of their fight and earned a unanimous decision over the Cuban fighter.
Former Glory kickboxer and current UFC middleweight champion Jon Jones is on a seven-fight winning streak, his only loss coming when he made his MMA debut back in 2015. He trains out of Connecticut alongside former UFC light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira.
After losing to Pereira in the main event of UFC 281, Adesanya said he was inspired to come back and take his career to the next level, though he hadn't expected that it would lead to a rematch so soon after.
Adesanya's impressive victories over top-ranked opponents like Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum have been somewhat of a letdown since winning his UFC middleweight title at UFC 243. He has not fought since UFC 281 where he lost the belt to Alex Pereira.
Adesanya may be one of the greatest fighters in MMA, but he's also an inspirational speaker who encourages people to live life fully. That's why Adesanya gave a speech after his victory against Pereira at UFC 287 that went viral.
While it is easy to celebrate Adesanya's career and reflect on his success, he has also had his share of struggles. After his first loss, Adesanya made a vow that such an incident never happen again.
In his UFC career, Adesanya has only lost seven times - three of those losses being to Pereira. Now he faces off against his long time rival with hopes of finally getting back the belt awarded him at UFC 281.
He's driven by revenge, something he has yet to experience in his MMA career. Indeed, the only time he was defeated was by Pereira in 2017 - it remains the only time he's ever been knocked out.
After Adesanya's devastating knockout loss to Pereira, he's determined to beat him again - this time with the support of his team behind him. After months of training, Adesanya is ready to give it all on Saturday night at UFC 281.
It's no secret that Adesanya is an incredibly dangerous puncher. He boasts impressive counter punching skills and can find his opponent's target while sliding out of range, which may prove challenging for those unfamiliar with his style.
However, Pereira is an incredibly skilled striker who has already proven he can match Adesanya both in the boxing ring and on the ground. Therefore, Adesanya must remain patient and take his time as he attempts to seize control of the fight away from Pereira.
If Adesanya can gain control of the fight, he could easily defeat Pereira to claim the middleweight title. But that doesn't guarantee an easy victory; that is why Adesanya is taking this fight seriously.
One of Israel Adesanya's most distinguishing characteristics is his personality outside the cage. He's known for his creative walkout entrances and references to anime, earning him the nickname "The Last Stylebender."
As a child growing up in Nigeria, Adesanya had an outgoing personality that his peers sought to destroy. They bullied him, tripped him, and threw things from buses at him.
In his early MMA days, Adesanya developed an ability to read his opponent's reactions and avoid miscalculated aggression or inaction. This also taught him how to assess their defensive footwork and grasp their sensitivity for striking.
Adesanya's skill in this area is largely due to his kickboxing background, giving him an edge over many of his opponents. This allows him to shift his stance, move off their guard, and attack from behind which makes him hard to pin down in the middle of the cage.
This strategy also helps him avoid getting hit with a counter kick or punch. To do this, he shifts his weight onto his lead foot, keeping himself light and agile enough to sidestep any opponent's counter attack.
Another strategy Adesanya employs to keep his opponents off balance is the practice of constantly fake directional changes. He will fool them by moving to either left or right without warning, then retract his lead foot in order to prevent an attack from being launched. This maneuver can be employed for setting up punches, kicks or knees as well as locking in submissions.
Adesanya's ability to utilize this skill has been evident throughout his career, as evidenced in his fight against Jason Wilnis at Glory 81. It was an impressive backfoot battle that showcased Adesanya's combination of punching and body work.
This fight also showcases Adesanya's ability to use his lead hand as a distance gauge and block out his opponents' vision. He utilized this strategy to smother Gastelum's range with his head, setting up long and straight punches in the process.
Adesanya has never lost a middleweight fight, and he's established himself as one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. Throughout his three-plus year run in the UFC, he's defeated top contenders such as Derek Brunson, Paulo Costa (twice), Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker.
Most MMA fighters come into the sport with a specific skill set, but Adesanya stands out due to his capacity for striking and grappling at multiple ranges. He's an adept pressure-fighter who can cleverly work behind feints while stalking his prey while using his power to cause havoc on their bodies.
He's an expert at applying his kickboxing knowledge to mixed martial arts, and his clinch skills are uncanny. From hand traps that lead to elbows to clinches that lead to knees, Adesanya's counter grappling often proves decisive in his fights.
As Adesanya continues to ascend through the UFC ranks, he has become one of the sport's most recognizable and popular figures. With nine million followers across his various social media accounts - including six million on Instagram alone - Adesanya boasts an impressive following in the sport.
Adesanya has earned his fans' admiration with his fearlessness and confidence in the octagon. Additionally, his charismatic personality and engaging style have allowed him to connect with a younger demographic that many sports properties and advertisers seek out.
In addition to his fighting prowess, Adesanya is renowned for his charity work. He regularly donates money to various causes without drawing attention to it and prefers keeping it out of the public eye so he can focus on aiding smaller organizations.
When Adesanya isn't at the gym, he enjoys spending time with his family. His wife Nadia and son Ismail are both students at university; Adesanya often joins them for some quality time together.
He's an avid fan of anime and even has a tattoo of Toph Beifong - one of the main characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender. After retiring from fighting, he hopes to launch an anime production company.
He's an advocate for social justice and has sponsored 10,000 three-ply face masks to Whanganui's frontline healthcare staff as part of his Covid-19 fight. Additionally, he holds a deep commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement.