Israel Adesanya has been mostly silent since his upset loss to Sean Strickland in the UFC 293 headliner on Sept. 9. Adesanya was a heavy favorite heading into the matchup with Strickland, who wasn’t the UFC’s first choice of title challenger. However, once the bell rang, it was Strickland who set the tone, dropping his opponent in the opening stanza and then controlling the action with straight punches and consistent forward pressure.
That changed on Wednesday, when “The Last Stylebender” broke his silence in an interview on his YouTube channel. Though he appeared to be in good spirits, it was a subdued version of the former middleweight champion that appeared on camera. “How am I feeling?” Adesanya said. “Quietly confident.”
Adesanya’s reflections on the fight
“That just felt like a bad dream,” Adesanya said, while crediting Strickland for his approach. “He just never let me get into my rhythm at all. I just wasn’t able to get my rhythm because of his pressure. He was right there constantly …It was a good game plan from their end, but for me, I wasn’t able to adjust on the fly. It was his night. He got it done. I made another dream come true.” As the bout progressed, Adesanya sensed he was losing the fight, but he was unable to shift the momentum in his favor. “I wasn’t even scoring the fight, but I knew (I was) losing the fight,” Adesanya said. “I just felt like my arms were like noodles. I had no snap. It just felt weird.”
Looking forward to a rematch
With that being said, Adesanya is “quietly confident,” as he says, because he believes he can improve upon that performance in a rematch. “We know exactly what to do leading up to the next one,” he said. Adesanya is also aware of the naysayers, some of whom are past opponents who came out on the losing end against the Nigerian-born Kiwi. “It’s funny how they say, ‘If I faced that version of Israel…’ You understand who I am,” Adesanya said. “I just find that funny.”
While UFC CEO Dana White indicated that Adesanya should get an immediate rematch against Strickland following UFC 293, it’s unclear when that might happen. After fighting three times in 11 months, the City Kickboxing standout didn’t give an exact timetable for his return. He also made it clear that championship hardware isn’t necessarily a priority. “We’ll see,” he said. “The belt’s never mattered to me. It does obviously, but how many times have I said that it’s just a fancy tiara that brings more money? The belt’s just a nice accessory. I’ve got many belts. I’m just trying to do it again. Just for fun.”