Israel Adesanya lost his title to Sean Strickland at UFC 293. Now what?
Israel Adesanya was one of the most active UFC champions. Throughout two reigns, the ‘Last Stylebender’ rarely let his foot off the gas, so he would frequent trips to the Octagon every few months. In his most recent trip, Adesanya was set to defend for the first time since dethroning Alex Pereira with a ‘KO of the Year’ contender at UFC 287 this past April. In front of him was not an expected challenger, as Dricus Du Plessis, who had seemingly earned a championship opportunity against Adesanya with a finish of Robert Whittaker, was not ready to return due to injury.
The UFC was only a few months away from its highly anticipated return to Australia and tapped Israel Adesanya to spearhead it. For the champion, he had no qualms about who he would face — Adesanya simply wanted a name. That name was Sean Strickland. In one of the most surprising results of the year, Strickland defeated Adesanya via decision at UFC 293 in September. Aside from a few words uttered at his post-fight press conference and a video saying he had to put himself first, the City Kickboxing product gave us no real indication of what was coming next. Until now.
Israel Adesanya announces a mini hiatus from fighting
During a recent appearance on New Zealand radio show, The Rock FM, Israel Adesanya let us in on what he has decided to do next. As he previously alluded to, the 34-year-old is indeed putting himself first with a well-deserved hiatus.
“Before this fight I was very like, ‘I know I’m on the back end of my career, so I want to do as many as I can because I know when I’m done with this I’m going to miss it,’” said Adesanya. “I’m trying to do as much as I can. But then after this fight, and again, 14 months and four fights, it’s not just the fights, it’s the training and everything.
I had injuries going into the Pereira fight, you’ve seen that. I don’t make any excuses. Strickland got me on the night because he was the better fighter on the night. He did his work well. He had a good team behind him. I never made excuses. I gave him props.
“Now I’m going to take time to look after myself, and I’m not going to fight for a long time. I’m definitely not going to retire because I know me — I’m not leaving like that,” continued Adesanya. “I know me. But if I did, I’m fine. I don’t need to prove anything else. But I know what I can do and I know what I can change in my lifestyle to make my body adapt to where I need to be. I’m going to heal myself up. You won’t see me fight for a long time.”
Adesanya has already sent a warning to the rest of the division ahead of his return.
“When I come back, run for the f—king hills.”
It’s unclear how long this hiatus could take, but not fighting for a “long time” might still be a lot shorter than most, seeing as he has been one of the most active champions across not just in the UFC, but in multiple sports. Israel Adesanya has over 100 professional fights combined in MMA, kickboxing, and boxing.
Potential options for Adesanya in his eventual return
Depending on what happens in the next few months, Israel Adesanya has a few options to consider for his next fight. A rematch with Sean Strickland is still there, which all signs were pointing to after his loss. UFC CEO Dana White hinted at Strickland vs. Adesanya II, but that changed once the latter announced his mini hiatus. Strickland now has a new challenger in the winner of Khamzat Chimaev vs. Kamaru Usman which was recently announced as the new UFC 294 co-main event.
Despite missing out on him, Adesanya could also revisit Dricus Du Plessis as soon as the pair recover from their respective injuries. Adesanya and Du Plessis have had several run-ins, one of which ended in an intense face-to-face at UFC 290 in July. Given their history, it would appear as though that fight could — and should — happen.
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