UFC 271 battle week was at all times going to be about Israel Adesanya.
Sure, it’s additionally about middleweight challenger Robert Whittaker — the previous champ who Adesanya overthrew for the title in 2019 — nevertheless it’s the champion from Nigeria by means of his longtime dwelling of New Zealand whose magnetism is drawing eyeballs within the fight sports activities world.
However now the battle itself, among the many most anticipated contests in Adesanya’s MMA profession, shares among the consideration. This week, it was introduced that the champ has signed what his administration staff, Paradigm Sports activities, referred to in a press release Wednesday as “one of the crucial profitable multi-fight offers in [UFC] historical past.”
What that quantities to is anybody’s guess, because the 32-year-old Adesanya (21-1, 15 finishes) and his staff have been obscure with the slightest of particulars.
“That’s for me to know and for you guys to remain tuned,” Adesanya repeated in response to any questions on his new pact when talking with The Put up by way of telephone on Thursday. These questions together with how the impact of his deal may trickle down and assist different fighters — one thing Adesanya talked about earlier this week when talking with media members — and whether or not the deal reached seven figures per battle, rarefied air within the UFC.
Not that the considerate, quick-witted Adesanya is usually shy with what’s occurring, however battle mode clearly is settling in forward of Saturday night time’s principal occasion at Toyota Middle in Houston. The contract is completed, however the second battle with Whittaker (23-5, 14 finishes) will not be but gained.
No matter occurred after they final met — a second-round Adesanya knockout that adopted a flash knockdown simply earlier than the horn within the first body — is up to now. Rematches have a tendency to not play out in related vogue to the primary battle.
That’s precisely what Adesanya is relying on, drawing slightly inspiration from Anderson Silva, the middleweight GOAT himself, whose path and expertise continuously come up compared to the present 185-pound king. On the creation of Silva’s historic 2,457-day title run, The Spider ran via revered champion Wealthy Franklin to say the belt. The 2 met a yr later, with one other Silva tour de power of a win by way of hellish clinch knees.
Even Adesanya admitted the parallels between him and Silva, and Whittaker and Franklin, struck him earlier this week.
“I used to be like, huh, this seems like Anderson Silva [vs.] Wealthy Franklin when he beat him the second time worse than the primary time,” Adesanya stated. “Wealthy Franklin, one of many biggest middleweights of all time, he dealt with the clinch slightly higher at first, ’trigger he realized that was his greatest mistake within the first battle. However then, ultimately, he simply succumbed to the facility of the clinch, so I really feel prefer it’s gonna be related on this battle.
“[Whittaker] thinks he’s gonna deal with my grappling or no matter, or take me down, all these things. However then, he’s gonna be in for a impolite awakening come that point.”
On the toes, Adesanya attracts raves for his hanging arsenal and the best way he slips and counters — once more, not dissimilar from Silva. Earlier than the primary battle, Whittaker’s succesful wrestling was anticipated to consider. It didn’t, and the New Zealand-born Australian paid the value with the lack of his title.
If techniques change, and Whittaker goals to take the battle to the ground, the thought doesn’t appear to hassle the champion.
“I hope so, however I’m ready for something,” Adesanya stated. “I type of need to showcase my [grappling]. It is a language that I converse fairly fluently. I’m not an skilled, however I converse it very nicely. So I look ahead to him making an attempt to talk my lingo with me.”
If Adesanya has his approach, this may very well be the primary of as many as 4 title defenses in 2022, an unprecedented accomplishment. Solely six fighters in UFC historical past have made even three profitable title defenses in a calendar yr, most lately a yr in the past by present welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.
Such a feat would require each the cooperation of the champion and promotion, and well being performs an element. The UFC hardly ever makes an attempt to schedule 4 title fights for a similar division in the identical yr. However Adesanya gained’t rule out the aspirational aim.
“Something can occur,” Adesanya says. “The UFC is a loopy group. I adore it. … We will make s–t occur.”