The qualities that make Israel Adesanya a UFC superstar – Stuff.co.nz

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Israel Adesanya’s meteoric rise through the UFC’s middlewight ranks will surprise everyone except the fighter and his team. Adesanya gained a unanimous points decision over American Kelvin Gastelum in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday to win the division’s interim title. It was a torrid battle where Adesanya confirmed some new-found defensive qualities to go with his five-star attacking game – a good chin that withstood severe punishment and an improving ground game that will have opponents looking for new avenues to expose him.APIsrael Adesanya leaves the octagon with his UFC interim middleweight belt after beating American Kelvin Gastelum in Atlanta. Adesanya is now set to fight champion Robert Whittaker, a Kiwi-born Australian, for the middleweight belt at a stadium venue in Australia later this year. READ MORE: * Adesanya wins UFC belt * White compares Adesanya to McGregor * UFC star takes aim at Izzy ​* Recap: Adesanya v Gastelum ​* Adesanya: I was willing to die for that Nigerian-born Adesanya, who moved to New Zealand as a 10-year-old, has fashioned a 6-0 record with the UFC in just over a year, using his kickboxing and boxing skills to become a superstar in combat sport’s toughest environment.APIsrael Adesanya showed he had a good chin ass he held off the attack of Kelvin Gastelum. He follows in the footsteps of Irish superstar Conor McGregor and it’s a phenomenal rise by anyone’s standards. That is, except to the man himself. He’s now a household name but Adesanya, 29, is no upstart and his ascension will come as little surprise to those who have followed him closely. After amassing a staggering 75-4 record in a glittering kickboxing career and winning his first 11 MMA bouts inside the distance, he was already established as one of the best fighters outside of the UFC.APIsrael Adesanya showed he was able to counter the string grappling game of Kelvin Gastelum. That was confirmed with a dazzling promotional debut in February last year, stopping Aussie Rob Wilkinson in the second round, before backing that up with a gritty decision win against Italian Marvin Vettori. Brad Tavares and Derek Brunson were also dispatched with relative ease as Adesanya gamely took on opponents with frightening regularity. But with such an impressive CV, it was always going to be a matter of “when” rather than “if” he would make a splash in the octagon.  Throw in the scalp of UFC legend Anderson Silva and it was clear that Adesanya belonged at the elite level of this game.1 NEWSIsrael Adesanya wants to take gold back to Africa but is committed to New Zealand. It’s why he laughs at suggestions from some rivals that he’s being pushed along too quickly.  “They don’t know about my history, they don’t know about my background and they don’t know the work I’ve been doing,” Adesanya said.  “I’ve been taking bodies all over the world. Have a look at my body of work and you will realise that I’m ready for these guys, these guys aren’t ready for me.”APIsrael Adesanya celebrates after defeating Kelvin Gastelum to be the UFC’s interim middleweight champion. After inking a four-fight deal with the UFC last December, it hasn’t taken long for president Dana White to realise just what a talent he has on his hands. He has quickly gone from prospect to champion with White even likening his starpower to McGregor. Adesanya’s flamboyant fighting style coupled with his charismatic personality is a promoter’s dream. He surely answered repeated questions about his grappling as he cleverly managed to out-manouvre Gastelum’s noted wrestling techniques in Atlanta. As he starts to impress on the ground, he assumes the look and feel of an allround fighter  with his exceptional speed, precision and footwork, tied together with a tremendous fight IQ honed by head trainer Eugene Bareman. Tall and rangy, Adesanya sets himself apart with a unique set of striking techniques and when at his best, he moves with a mesmerising flow that has its origins in his days as a dancer. “I’ve got back into it a little bit and for me, the muscle memory in dance is second to none,” he said. MAT KERMEEN/STUFFThe hype around Israel Adesanya continues to build as his preparations for Saturday’s title fight wind down. “They know their bodies and that correlates to fighting in a way that when I learn drills my body is able to retain it quicker and I am able to just flow and be off instinct.  “Timing, creativity, off beat, on beat all that kind of stuff just relates to fighting and that’s why these guys can’t catch me.” Fighting is just one part of “The Last Stylebender” package. He is a natural showman and has no problems letting others know about his talents, no better shown than when he stared directly into the camera to put the division on notice moments after his UFC debut. “Middleweights, I’m the new dog in town. And I just pissed all over the cage.” Adesanya puts his supreme confidence partly down to his Nigerian heritage – he moved from Lagos to Rotorua before eventually settling in Whanganui – and the talented team he has surrounded himself with at Auckland gym City Kickboxing. It’s much different to your typical self-effacing Kiwi sportsperson, but for that Adesanya makes no apologies. “I think it’s the culture of Nigerian people. We are very flamboyant, we are very sure of ourselves and we like to let people know. “People are too concerned about what other people think and try to dim their light so they don’t offend some people. “I’m like screw that, just shine. If you feel some type of way and you want to show off just let it go. “You are here for a reason and own it.” Adesanya may have been on the UFC fast-track for the last year but he has now surely arrived with an exclamation mark. Whittaker knows he will have his hands full when they do eventually meet. Adesanya is a man who backs up his words with actions.
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