UFC 281 didn’t seem like a good overall experience for Israel Adesanya. After losing the undisputed middleweight title to rival Alex Pereira, ‘The Last Stylebender’ was also detained and put in a cell at the JFK Airport in New York City after being found to have brass knuckles in his possession.
In a recent guest appearance on The MMA Hour, Adesanya spoke in detail about his experience after the arrest, where he was briefly detained in a cell by airport security.
Israel Adesanya details airport detention
As Israel Adesanya told Ariel Helwani, the entire incident was surreal at best, having just engaged in a world title fight just days before.
“It’s crazy how life happens. You lose the belt, you go to the airport, get arrested. … First thing I did when I got into the cell was meditate for about 15 minutes. [I was in the cell] for about 45 minutes. They were all, like, “What the f–k? What are you doing here?’
“People started coming like, ‘Oh shit, hey Israel. What happened? We’ll get you out of here as soon as possible.’
“That’s life. I like these experiences, whether good or bad, it all happens for my benefit and my favor.
“I sit in the cell and I see people’s graffiti on the wall and I remember just thinking, ‘This is crazy. I was just fighting at Madison Square Garden literally a few days ago and now I’m in a cell in the airport.
After his brief meditation session, the reigning champ says he was able to get his bearings and begin thinking about what to do next.
“So I was like, ‘Right.’ I sat there and I just meditated, just to center myself again. From there it was, ‘Right. Cool. What are we going to do?’”
Israel Adesanya says brass knuckles were a gift from fans
Manager Aaron Simpson was quick to dismiss the incident as an ‘innocent mistake,’ stating that the brass knuckles came from a fan. According to him, his client unknowingly slipped the weapon into his luggage as they were rushing for the airport to return home to New Zealand.
For Israel Adesanya, the experience taught him a lesson, particularly about accepting gifts from fans. But overall, it was a ‘cool experience’ for him.
“This is why now I don’t take gifts from fans. Also, some people might be weird, they might put some juju or some weird things.
“But shoutout to fans, they’re cool, and I think once they started to see I was taking gifts, guys would bring, like, an old sweatshirt. I was, like, ‘This isn’t my camp, Puma,’ I just give it back, it’s an excuse.
“It is what it is, it was a cool experience, regardless. It’s just part of life stories now. I guess I got arrested and put in cuffs.”
Israel Adesanya’s next fight
The 33-year-old native of Lagos, Nigeria bounced back big from his November loss during his rematch with Pereira at UFC 287 in April. Not only did he exact revenge on ‘Poatan,’ he also reclaimed the title while winning a $50K bonus for Performance of the Night.
After the fight, Israel Adesanya welcomed a potential clash against South Africa’s Dricus du Plessis, a fight that he’d already made personal. But recently, he also broached the idea of a trilogy with former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 293.
Adesanya and Whittaker last fought at UFC 271 in February 2022, where the latter lost via unanimous decision. Whittaker will face du Plessis in a potential title eliminator at UFC 290 on July 8th in Las Vegas.
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