UFC Champion Israel Adesanya Will ‘Hunt Down’ Jon Jones
Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya discussed a number of fellow fighters during his Submission Radio appearance recently.
Adesanya is set to defend his title against Yoel Romero at UFC 248 on March 7. The event takes place from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, airing live on pay-per-view.
Why he wanted Romero specifically for UFC 248
“It was hard to sell it to them (UFC) because they were like, we can’t give a title shot to a guy who’s had numerous title shots, who’s been known for little vet moves or cheating “AKA”, and he’s just a guy that they didn’t think they could sell it. But I told them I’d sell it, I’d be the one to put it on. Because he’s the guy that people had been hoping (would beat me). It’s not really about him. They’re not coming to watch him, they’re coming to watch me because they’re hoping he’s the one to take me out. Cause from the get go, from my first UFC fight, all they ever said was, ‘feed him to Romero,’ and, ‘he’ll take him down and it’s over’. That’s what all the casuals have felt, that’s what all the experts have felt. So, I just feel like he’s one of those guys, I think he’s one of those guys that he’s… I mean, he scares Darren Till. I don’t see it, but yeah, he’s the guy that scares a lot of people. And no one’s asked to fight him, so I’m doing something different.”
Why Israel feels like “they” want to see him lose
“That’s just human nature – build them up, and then when they feel, ‘oh, he thinks he’s the man, he’s too big for this. Well, let’s fucking… let’s hope he loses. He’s winning too much’. And I know this because I’ve felt it before. I’ve felt it. Just like, you see someone on top for so long, you go, fuck, let’s just… if he loses it, would be so epic. Let’s just see. Honestly, everyone feels it. You guys feel it, everyone feels it. But you have to recognise that. And when you recognise that, you’re able to navigate through it and realise, oh, it’s actually nothing against me, it’s just people doing their own thing. But whoever they is, they know who they are, and they can pick a number and wait in line.”
If there’s added pressure because Israel gave Yoel the title shot and opportunity to beat him
“Same business, different night. It’s just another guy. I mean, there’s no added pressure. Even if it was fucken Brunson again, it would just be, oh yeah, another fight, cool, let’s get it done. I don’t know. People look at things differently compared to me, and that’s why I’m in the position I’m in. Yeah, I don’t feel any added pressure. It’s just March 7th, me and another man who bleeds, who cries, who sweats, just gonna step in there and do battle, and I’ll come out on top.”
On doing right by the division and defending his belt four times before going up and fighting at light heavyweight
“I’ve said it, cause a lot of people are already like, ‘let’s go to 205, let’s face the champ’. For me, I’m like, just give me a second. I’m only two years in the game. That’s one thing a lot of people are forgetting, I’ve only been here two years. I could have been in the UFC a long time ago, but we took our time so we could properly prepare and not be another stat, another rise and fall superstar, or whatever. So, I’m doing my bit by, you know, I’ve already defended my belt once. I won it in Atlanta, I defended it in Melbourne. I want to defend it like three more times this year. And if I could get one more early next year, that would be cool. And then I’ll step up and fight whoever I want to fight at 205. But yeah, I’m just – like you said, it’s paying homage to the old school, doing right by the division. Winning the belt, defending the belt, and then stepping up. Not just like, win the belt, step up and then hold up the division. The division was already held up a long time cause of Robert (Whittaker), so I don’t want to be that guy.”
On who else Dana wanted Israel to fight instead of Yoel Romero
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“There wasn’t really any names originally, but I was looking at UFC 244 to see how Darren Till or Kelvin does, see how they won. If one of them… if Darren had won in spectacular fashion, knocked out Kelvin in the first round, something crazy like that, fuck it, I’m going to London, sell out the stadium over there. That would have been the one. But yeah, in this game you just have to play things by ear sometimes and just see how things go with the ebbs and flows. But yeah, that was one of the options. (Jared) Cannonier, he was another guy that was on the table. But personally, I felt like I want to savour that one. I don’t want to rush that fight. That fight could be a really, really monumental fight for MMA and MMA history, for the culture. So yeah, for me, I didn’t want to rush that fight. I just felt he needed one more big win. Cause, just, I mean, two black men going at it at the height of their careers. Like, if he has one more big win, if he fights Darren at UFC 248, my undercard, if he has like a highlight win, that could be the next one. But we’ll see, we’ll see.”
Thoughts on Darren Till’s win over Kelvin at UFC 244
“I liked it. Everyone was like, ‘oh, boring, boo, whatever’. Well, that’s just casuals, as they do. I like that he fought smart. It wasn’t like a fight like I had with Kelvin or I had with Whittaker or the one I had with Anderson, but it was a tactical fight, it was a safe fight. And for him, coming off the losses he had, I think he had to play it that way. He played it the smart way, and now he’s got that win under his belt, he’s got the wind under his sails, we’ll see what he does at UFC 248. Am I breaking news? I don’t know, maybe. I’m just putting it out there that he might fight Cannonier, cause Robert pulled out to donate bone marrow to his daughter, which is really admirable.
If Adesanya would go to London to fight Till
“I haven’t been to London yet, so what better excuse.”
“What better reason than to do a stadium show over there and fight one of their sons in Darren Till.”
“We’re cool. I like Darren. We already know we’re gonna fight one day. We’ll do it for the culture of fighting, because that’s a stylistic match-up that just can’t be missed. Not in this era. That’s a fight that’s not gonna get away from under me. But yeah, I like him. He’s a good sort, he’s a good kid. I think we’d get along very well. But Darren is not ape.”
If Yoel Romero is lucky that Israel gave him this title shot
“Yeah. Fuck. Look, when he fought… his last win was my UFC debut. Think about that. Let that sink in. And I said, I haven’t been here for a long time, I’ve only been here for two years. His last win was my UFC debut. He’s a guy that – even that fight, it was for the interim title, right? He didn’t make weight. He could have spent the extra hours or whatever time is given to make the weight. He chose not to because he decided, or his team decided they’d take the fine, and if they win they’ll still get the shot at the title anyway. These are tactics, these are moves that they do. So yeah, he’s a guy… I mean, he’s lost his last three out of four. He’s had two, three different title shots. Fuck, come on. I’m a nice guy. This could be a tax write off for charity.”
On Yoel Romero’s controversial moments in fights
“What was it, ‘stoolgate’, missing weight, fence grabs, shorts, low grabbing. The list goes on. And they call these ‘veteran moves’. Trust me, some people do anything to win. Whether right or wrong, they’ll do anything to get that win. But I’m not one of those people. I’ll do anything within my power, within the rules to win. I don’t bend the rules, even though I’m the Stylebender, I don’t bend the rules in the way you’d think. Like, trying to get an advantage with steroids. I’m not that kind of guy.”
“I play it by the rules, because I want an even playing field. But these boys don’t want to play fair, so sometimes you have to do what you have to do. But can you sleep with yourself at night? Can you win a world title cheating, and then be okay with that? If you can, power to you. But that’s not how I wanna do it.”
If Yoel Romero could actually be Israel’s toughest test the way everybody else expects him to be
“I’ve had some tough tests. Right now, I still think Kelvin has been my toughest fight so far physically. Mentally, Anderson has been my toughest fight so far. But, we’ll see. That’s yet to be said. I don’t think he’s gonna be. Like, the way the match is shaping up, I don’t really think he’s gonna be. I think he’s gonna be quite… not easy, but I’ll make it look easy.”
“I said that about the Robert fight, cause everyone was counting me out. They said, ‘man, this is it, nah, you can’t fuck with Robert’, this and that. And I said I’ll make it look easy. And what did I do? I made it look easy. I just feel that way for this one as well. I don’t think… Yoel is a guy who’s fought someone who just stays in front of him. He stays in front of him, and yeah, he likes a punching bag, and that I am not.”
Thoughts on what’s most dangerous about Romero, and also hoping that Romero tries to wrestle in their fight
“That he’ll lull you into a false sense of security where you feel like you can kind of coast or you’re in control, and he’ll just explode. So, you have to stay on with him at all points. You can’t just drift off, you can’t just coast in your mind. But also, his wrestling I think should be his strong suit. Cause he’s an Olympian and all this shit, but he rarely ever uses it. So, I’m hoping he uses it in this fight. I want to see what that wrestling’s about.”
On Dana White saying Jones vs. Adesanya would be in a stadium in Australia or NZ, not Raiders Stadium in Las Vegas
“I think Raiders Stadium would be the one. If it makes dollars, it makes sense. So, you just have to make it make sense to Dana, and once you do, yeah, he’ll follow suit. Or we can even take it to somewhere like Morocco or somewhere like South Africa. We can definitely do it out here in New Zealand, but not Australia. I’ve already given you guys a stadium show.”
On Jon Jones saying the fight wouldn’t happen because already have moved to heavyweight, and Israel being happy to chase Jon up to heavyweight
“Raiders would be the one for that. And what did he say? I saw something on Instagram that by the time he goes to heavyweight the fight will be – who gives a fuck about weight? I’ve never given a fuck about weight. Since when? It’s never been an issue for me. I’ve been a heavyweight in boxing, in kickboxing. I’ll do it in again in MMA. So, it’s never been an issue for me. He can try and run to heavyweight, but I’ll chase him down. I’ll hunt him down if I have to.”
If Israel would actually fight Jon Jones at heavyweight
“Yeah. Let him go to heavyweight. Right now, I’m working at middleweight. If he wants to come, he can skip the line if he comes down to middleweight. I’ve said that already. But I’m sure he can’t do that because his frame won’t let him. So, let me do my work, shut the fuck up and I’ll come see you when it’s time.”
If Israel expects Jon Jones to try and build a fight with him while doing media for his UFC 247 fight against Dominick Reyes, and coming for Jon even if he losses to Reyes
“Don’t really care, don’t really know. I know that when I’m fighting, he tries to talk shit about me when I’m fighting to try and take away the attention from my fight onto him, or to try like, you know, make it about him for whatever reason. But, it’s my show. Yeah, but I don’t really care. If Dom wins, good on Dom, happy for him. And I think he’s got a big problem on his hands with Dominick Reyes as well. But if Dom wins, doesn’t matter, I’m still coming for that ass.”
On McGregor wanting to potentially fight on his card in March
“I think when he was talking about it, the fight wasn’t signed yet (between me and Romero). The fight wasn’t signed, sealed and delivered. That’s why. But yeah, if he fights on the card, I’d have to be the co-main, if I’m being honest. Just based on the stock right now. But, that’s also good for me as well, because the people that come and watch him are gonna watch me whoop ass and be like, ‘holy shit, who’s this fly looking black by doing all this shit? This guy’s the man. Let me watch him more’. And then like I’ve said, this is a numbers game, and those numbers are coming for me too. I see them everywhere. Straight up.”