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Israel Adesanya’s Coach On Rematch With Jan Blachowicz, Jon Jones

Eugene Bareman, the coach for UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, stopped by to chat with Submission Radi on his way home from UFC 259 [1] recently.

Bareman discussed Adesanya’s bout with Jan Blachowicz, a future rematch and a potential meeting with Jon Jones still down the road.

On what they didn’t expect Jan to do in the fight 

What we didn’t expect, was Jan to be so standoffish. We thought he would be a lot more aggressive, and we really put a lot of emphasis into our training for him to come forward and rush us a lot. And when he stood there and postured with Israel a lot, we didn’t really expect that. But we were prepared for it, but I believe that made the fight a little closer than we expected it to be.” 

On Israel’s performance 

I think Israel performed well. Did he perform his best? No. But did he preform terribly? No. He just had a really good opponent in front of him and a really good team who had a good strategy and who had the right answers. Israel didn’t perform terribly. A lot of that has to do with his opponent, really. So, not gonna try to take any credit away from Jan. He did really well there.” 

On Jan being able to land shots on Israel 

Yeah, it did surprise me a little bit. But again, we made some adjustments. We were a little slow to adjust in this fight, and we expected to have a little more of a lead coming into four and five. But we thought that we would take over the more that fight progressed. We were under the thinking that the better it would be for us, given that obviously a part of our game plan wasn’t to be taken down in those later rounds.” 

Why there are no excuses for the loss, and why Eugene is excited after it 

“No excuses. I think the training camp went well, and the lead-up to the fight in fight week was brilliant. Nah, I don’t. There’s no excuses here. This is the thing, man, when you lose, it doesn’t happen in this sport nowadays, but sometimes you just lose and you just have to take it. And we are as a team internalizing it, and we’re being humble about it and taking it like a loss, like you should do. It doesn’t happen enough in this sport. People kind of refuse to accept a loss, but we’re accepting it we’re looking to take what we can out of it.” 

“We’ve learned a shit tonne, to be honest. We’ve learned a shit tonne.” 

“As much as when you’re winning you try to learn just as much as if you were in a situation where you lost, it’s never the case. And only a loss can bring out certain amounts of attention to detail, certain amounts of enthusiasm, certain amount of excitement to get back in and fix up some of the areas and kind of rejig a few things and rethink a few things. And we’re excited about this loss, because we know the power of it. We know that if can capture the power of the loss, we can really take things to another level, because we’ve done it many times before. 

The reason why Israel didn’t put on weight or size, and why he would in the future at 205 

With the putting on weight, look, our intention was always to go back to 185. If you know about this sport, if you know about the science of putting on weight, when you stack on a significant amount of muscle, then you try to take that muscle off and try to move back down in weight, in 95 percent of cases throughout history, it ends up very bad. So, we knew we were always coming down to 185, and so we knew we had to compete at basically our walkaround weight, basically our 185 weight for this to be successful. And another time in the future when we’re willing to say goodbye to 185, then we’ll stack the science behind it and we’ll build up properly to our proper light heavyweight kind of frame. But it just wasn’t possible. We were always going down to 185. So, we had to fight at that weight.” 

If Eugene sees a rematch with Jan in Israel’s future 

We’re competitive. Israel’s ultra-competitive. Israel will go down and clean up and dominate 185 for a while. I do see Jan as being quite a longreigning champion. I think we’ll definitely chase Jan again. He’s a worthy opponent, and he’s beaten us and he’s a worthy opponent. So, I can’t exactly predict the future, but we will definitely come hunting for the Polish power again.” 

On Jan being the greatest 205er in the UFC and not Jon Jones 

Once you cheat, Jon Jones is about as irrelevant as TJ Dillashaw. It’s like, to me they don’t exist. Like, yeah, is anything that TJ Dillashaw did in the past relevant now that he’s cheated? No. No. It’s not any different for Jon Jones. So, you can’t talk to me about Jon Jones. I have a particular opinion, and that isn’t shared by the rest of the world. So, at the moment the greatest 205er is Jan Błachowicz. There’s no one else. There’s no one else as great as him.” 

Why the Jon Jones fight will never be off the table 

This fight had nothing to do with Jon Jones. The the choice to take it had zero to do with Jon Jones. Jon Jones, that fight hasn’t fizzled away. Jon Jones is a businessman. Jon Jones understands how the pay-per-view market works and he understands where the money is, and that’s why this fight doesn’t fizzle away. Because at the end of the day, if it makes money, it makes sense. And Jon knows who the biggest star in the sport is at the moment and who can get him paid the most. That is why the fight won’t fizzle out. So, Jon’s gonna, if he hasn’t already, I’m sure he’s probably been on social media and gone through all the antics that he usually does, but at the end of the day, the facts are the facts. The fight doesn’t fizzle out, because they’re the biggest guys in the sport and they bring in the most money, and that’s why the fight still exists.” 

On Israel really only having two fights left at middleweight before moving back up to 205 

There’s no Marvin Vettori, there’s no Paulo Costa. There’s Darren Till. Darren Till needs to win. And Robert Whittaker because he’s one of our brethren, he’s one of our brothers, he’s a Kiwi. So, there’s two fights, and then what do we do? [If] Jan wins a couple, we win a couple. I don’t know, that’s just me throwing stuff out there. But you’re on the right path. Middleweight, the problem with middleweight at the moment is Israel has gotten himself into a position where he’s cleaned it out a little bit. So, there’s Robert, who’s right there and who’s trudging his way back, who’s grinding his way back. But Darren Till is the frontrunner there. Darren Till, and then hopefully Robert. Hopefully the worlds back to normal and Robert can be a massive fight in Melbourne again or Auckland. Probably Auckland. How about that?” 

Why Till is ahead of Rob in terms of who’s next for Israel 

Darren Till is. How is Robert the frontrunner when, you know, I don’t want to say bad things about Robert, but it wasn’t a competitive fight. Like, he didn’t touch us. So how is that the frontrunner for the next fight? The fight wasn’t competitive. The frontrunner for us is the biggest challenge, and at the moment it seems to be that Darren Till could have a style that possibly gives Israel a few problems.” 

On Israel gaining size and muscle next time he goes to light heavyweight, and why size wasn’t a factor in this loss 

Next time we go to light heavyweight, we definitely stack on some weight and try to get our walkaround weight and our fight weight a little higher, for sure, to a proper light heavyweight limit. It wasn’t too much of a factor. If you look at Jan’s fights, once you let Jan take you down and you give him that crossface and that underhook and you let him, he knows how to stall out that position, he knows how to win a round from that position. And doesn’t matter who is, there’s light heavyweights have struggled from that position who are a lot bigger and stronger than Israel, who haven’t been able to have any more success than Israel had. That’s just Jan’s position. That’s how he finishes rounds. He gets them into a deep half guard position and side control, and he just knows how to work.” 

“We can’t use size as an excuse.”