After eight years of active competition, former UFC champion Israel Adesanya is taking a break from fighting. The decision came a month after he lost the title to Sean Strickland at UFC 293 in mid-September.
A former rival is giving “The Last Stylebender” some props for this career move.
Israel Adesanya announces his hiatus
The 34-year-old Adesanya recently sat down with the Rock FM in his home country of New Zealand, revealing his plans to take a respite. He didn’t give any specifics regarding the timetable, but MMA fans won’t see him in action “for a long time.”
“I’m definitely not going to retire because I know me — I’m not leaving like that. 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.”
Israel Adesanya did leave some fighting words for the rest of his foes at 185 pounds.
“When I come back, run for the f—ing hills.”
Jon Jones praises Adesanya
Israel Adesanya found an unlikely supporter in a former rival. Over the weekend, UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones had encouraging words via social media bearing a primary message: ‘Always put YOU first.’
Jones also took a three-year layoff in 2020 to prepare for his move up to heavyweight. “Bones” dealt with a handful of doubts and questions about his UFC return at the time.
But he eventually proved his critics wrong at UFC 285 in March when he defeated Ciryl Gane in just over two minutes to win the vacant heavyweight title.
Jones and Adesanya were once fierce rivals
Jon Jones and Israel Adesanya didn’t always have the cordial relationship that fans see nowadays. There was a point when the two elite fighters hurled insults at each other and even considered a potential matchup down the line.
But that rivalry saw an official end this past June. As Adesanya explained, it’s all thanks to some much-needed growing up.
“Growth is something you have to go through as a human being, as a man especially. Maturity.
“There was a point where we were … ah, f—k. I came to the UFC, I felt like — it’s up to him to admit this — he was a fan but then he was kind of like, ‘Ah, there’s another coming in this game and just taking the shine.’
“You don’t have to hate on me for doing what I’m doing. We can be in our own lanes and be great.”
Jones delivered a similar message.
“He’s done great things, and you know, people say there’s lots of room in the sky for many stars, and he is undoubtedly a star but I feel like our careers are really un-comparable. Not a fight that I need, no.”
What’s next for Israel Adesanya?
But given his indefinite status, the Lagos, Nigeria native may have to wait his turn for another crack at the belt. For one, the upcoming middleweight bout between Kamaru Usman and Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 294 will be a title eliminator bout, according to White.
A viable option for Adesanya would be a grudge match against Dricus du Plessis. The two were supposed to meet at UFC 293, but the latter had to pull out due to an injury.
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