It hasn’t taken Israel Adesanya long to become one of the UFC’s big names, and as a result, comparison’s between his rise and that of Conor McGregor’s are being made. So what does “The Last Stylebender” think of that theory?
Adesanya joined the UFC in February, 2018, and now, approximately one year later, he’s booked to fight Kelvin Gastelum on April 13th for the interim middleweight title. During that time, the vaunted striker has gone 5-0 and he’s scored wins over the legendary Anderson Silva, and contenders like Derek Brunson and Brad Tavares. Not only has Adesanya made noise in the cage, but the middleweight’s made headlines due to his abilities on the mic. So, that, coupled with his rise to fame has prompted comparisons to McGregor.
But, while speaking on “The MMA Hour” recently, Adesanya had this to say about that narrative (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“[McGregor] is on his own journey, I’m on my own journey,” Adesanya said. “That’s the beauty of this sport. We’re trying to get to the same place, maybe, but we’re on different paths.
“I just want to f*ck everyone up. I’m not a f*cking asshole or a dick or anything, unless they deserve it. I just want to fight and be remembered as the best, who fought everyone and beat them. Then the money, the numbers, the records, they all chase me. So, there’s a little bit of strategy to it but I don’t want to go too deep. I’ll keep that to myself because look, [14 months] and I’ve already headlined a couple shows and I’m already on the way. I wouldn’t say I’m at the top yet. But, I keep rising, and even when I’m at the top, I keep rising. I just want to have these key moments, these key fights, and that’s about it.”
Now, you can understand why people are discussing the rise of Adesanya and McGregor together, but there are differences, as Adesanya alluded to. For starters, Adesanya’s rise to title contention has been much faster than McGregor’s. The latter made his UFC debut back in 2013, but McGregor didn’t fight for his first belt until 2015, in part, due to a knee injury.
Further, McGregor’s brash persona and ability to sling verbal trash caused quite a stir when he first joined the UFC. McGregor was often compared to Chael Sonnen, who had turned the MMA world upside down with his verbal gifts/tactics. Trash talk of that magnitude was still somewhat new to the sport, and McGregor turned heads throughout the game as a result. Adesanya has certainly raised eyebrows for the same reason, but not to the extent that McGregor did.
Adesanya – Gastelum will be part of UFC 236, which will be hosted by Atlanta, Georgia on April 13th.