Conor McGregor made his name and fortune in the UFC with incredible hard work, fantastic natural fighting ability and a keen eye for controversy, and when you look at 31-year-old Israel Adesanya, it’s hard not to see a vast number of similarities.
Having yet to taste defeat in his 20 UFC bouts, the Nigerian-born New Zealander has wowed fans with his explosive, enigmatic style within the octagon, even if some of his behaviour goes against the spirit of competition.
Adesanya has made the move up to light heavyweight to face Jan Blachowicz for the light heavyweight title on Saturday night, and the fight is being billed as having the potential to send Adesanya’s career into the stratosphere.
Very few have been able to become multiple-weight champions in the UFC, yet McGregor was able to do it with supreme style when he was at his best, and Adesanya has similar qualities.
Defeating his Polish opponent at UFC 259 will see Adesanya become a two-weight champion, holding two titles at the same time, and what follows after doing this is recognition, money and stardom.
However, what sets the New Zealand fighter apart is the fact that nobody has ever held multiple titles simultaneously, whilst also having never tasted defeat in the UFC.
“If you look at my fight with Paulo Costa, I didn’t even get touched in the face once,” Adesanya explained.
“That was my M.O: don’t get hit and hit the other guy.
“It will be the same thing in this fight: don’t get hit, but hit the other guy. He’s got a lot of power, but I don’t plan on getting touched at all.”
Given the fact that the 31-year-old is just 37 months into his UFC career, there has not been such a rise to the top in the sport before. In fact, the staggering and the alarming thing for the competition is that he seems to be getting better with every fight.
“I’ve always seen myself as number one,” Adesanya added in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“I just keep doing what I do and that’s the main thing that I’m focused on.
“It’s cool with the numbers and stuff, but all the stats don’t really faze me, it doesn’t deter me from my goal, which is to be the baddest.”
Sponsors are already pushing Israel’s door down, and more will follow if he wins on Sunday. He can follow in the footsteps of Ronda Rousey and McGregor whilst also having his best years ahead of him and that is a scary, scary thought.