Road to champ status: Israel “The Last StyleBender” Adesanya

Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya has quickly become one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC. Holding a 20-0 professional record, he’s come from very little to being one of the most recognizable names in the sport and fighting for a second belt against Jan Blachowicz.

The majority of the early years of his career was spent doing amateur Kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts in New Zealand and Australia where he grew up and of course, he was dominant in that part of combat sports also, with a 65-5-2 Pro Kickboxing record. His first MMA bout was in an organization in New Zealand in March of 2012 where he won by Head Kick. Before getting signed into the UFC, he had 11 wins in a row by finish with nearly all of them being from some sort of a kick.

Adesanya was signed by UFC in December of 2017. He made his debut at UFC 221 on February 10th, 2018 in Perth, Australia. The fight was against Rob Wilkinson in a Middleweight bout, and it went exactly how you would expect it to go, incredibly dominant. He denied takedown after takedown eventually tiring out his opponent where in the middle of the 2nd round he started using his opponents head as a punching bag, landing knee, after punch, after knee, eventually getting the stoppage and the victory. In his first UFC fight against another very well rounded 11-1 fighter he absolutely dismantled him and showed that even though he wasn’t in his natural weight class he could absolutely destroy his opponents.

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His second fight was 2 months later against a much better opponent in Martin Vettori who is currently the #5 ranked Middleweight contender, and for the first time in his pro MMA career he went all 15 minutes but still ending in a Split decision win. After that he actually got to be the main event of The Ultimate Fighter Season 27 Finale, where he faced off against the 8th ranked Middleweight Brad Tavares and went all 5 rounds ending in a unanimous decision victory and keeping him undefeated. With that victory for the first time in his career he was ranked at #9.

His next fight was his first PPV appearance against 6th ranked Middleweight Derek Brunson and for the first time in his UFC career he gets a round 1 finish by Knees and Punches, moving him up to #6 in the rankings. In only his 5th UFC fight he gets a main event and gets to go against the legend Anderson Silva, where surprise, surprise, he goes all 3 rounds and gets the unanimous decision victory over the legend Anderson Silva.

2 months later at UFC 236, he got his first title shot, going against 4th ranked Kelvin Gastelum for the interim middleweight title where in a intense 5 round fight, which was later named the “Fight of the year”, Adesanya comes out on top and captures the interim belt. 6 months later at UFC 243 in what is considered the biggest event in UFC history he gets to go back to Australia to face off against the undisputed Middleweight Champ Robert Whittaker for a chance to make his interim belt an undisputed belt. In an absolute fire fight, he defeats Whittaker in the second round with a nasty counter left hook grabbing the undisputed belt and doing it in style, hence his nickname “The Last Stylebender”. So less then 2 years into his UFC career, he became the best middleweight on earth and well deserved at that.

5 Months later at UFC 248 nearly a year ago now, he got his first title defense, going up against Yoel Romero (who replaced Paulo Costa due to injuries). In another 5 round fight, wouldn’t you guess, Adesanya gets his first title defense in a unanimous decision victory which actually led to Yoel Romero moving over to Bellator. So for his most recent fight back in late September he gets to go against the beast that is Paulo Costa on Fight Island. In another absolutely dominant showing, Adesanya dismantles Costa with the calf and body kicks eventually leading to the 2nd round victory with a left hook into ground and pound for his 2nd title defense.

The fight coming up this Saturday is easily the biggest test of his career as he goes up against Light Heavyweight Champ Jan Blachowicz for an attempt at a second title and to move to 21-0 professionally. Blachowicz is a master boxer and power hitter that isn’t afraid to wrestle and will for sure prove to be a worthy foe for Adesanya. The jump from Middleweight to Light Heavyweight is the biggest jump in the UFC at 20 pounds, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s for sure Israel Adesanya.

At 20-0 professionally, “The Last Stylebender” has done everything right to prove that he deserves to be in this position and deserves that second title. A win Saturday would most likely move him up to #1 in the Pound for Pound rankings and could seriously open the GOAT talks with his name firmly in it, because no man has shown this much consistency and dominance in that short amount of time. His coaching at City Kickboxing in Auckland, New Zealand has clearly been nothing short of incredible and just maybe it can lead to him becoming the 5th ever to hold two belts simultaneously.

Who knows what else is going to happen in his career, but Israel Adesanya has shown his dominance time, and time again and has proven why he should be considered the biggest name in the sport.

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