Israel Adesanya has had an exceptional year. Right now it’s between him and Jorge Masvidal for MMA’s top fighter in 2019. The Nigerian-born, New Zealander has fought twice this year. His first clash was a fight-of-the-year contender against Kelvin Gastelum. In his second, he knocked out Robert Whittaker to win the UFC middleweight crown.
His quick success has brought him into conflict with Jon Jones. In short, ‘Bones’ sees Adesanya as an arrogant upstart and wants to put a beating on him. The pair have gone back-and-forth and Dana White has even said that he’d be open to letting them fight in the future.
However, Adesanya has a clear vision for his future. He plans on defending his title until 2021, before moving up a weight class to fight for Jones’s title. Of course, MMA math doesn’t always work out. ‘Stylebender’ insists that if Jones wants to fight before then, he has to fulfil one massive demand.
Adesanya is adamant that he will defend his middleweight title before moving up a weight class. To be fair you have to respect that. We’ve seen divisions get messed up because of selfish champions and middleweight itself is only just recovering from that. ‘The Last Stylebender says that the only way he fights Jones before 2021 is if he drops down.
Jon Jones? Nah,” Adesanya said. “See, this is my new belt, 185. I’m the champ at that weight class. I need to clean out my division. If he wants to fight me right now, come see me at 185. I’ll let him jump the queue. Because he’s the champ at that weight class, I’ll let him jump the queue. But let me do my work. I already said 2021.”
The Last Stylebender thinks that Jones is worried about allowing him to develop even more. In two years Jones will be 34, while Adesanya will be 32. It’s likely that the light-heavyweight champion will begin to slow down. Adesanya compared the potential match-up to Floyd Mayweather’s fight with Canelo Alvarez.
“He’s a smart man,” Adesanya said. “You see Canelo now, what he did to Kovalev? People are like ‘oh he’s the new pound-for-pound’. I’m like ya’ll must have forgot, you remember the Mayweather fight? Mayweather did what Jon Jones was trying to do to me which is show his hands early. Fight him when he’s still young, still fresh.
“His coaches see the growth. They see me fight after fight after fight because I’m fighting so often. They’re like ‘man, this guy is getting better every time. If we’re going to beat him, we got to beat him yesterday. Day before yesterday because every time he’s getting better.’ They’re smart but I’m saying, hey, if you want to see me, come see me.”
Don’t Get Excited
In reality, this fight might never happen. Adesanya looks likely to fight Yoel Romero next as Paulo Costa is injured. Meanwhile, Jones is in a state of flux. Depending on what happens with Miocic v DC III, he might even move up to heavyweight next.
One thing that is certain is that Adesanya has massive star potential. Jones has never truly fulfilled his because of all his incidents outside the octagon. He’s reached his threshold but Adesanya is still a rising star. Of course, the UFC wants him to succeed and win as many fights as he can.