LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White wants to see Israel Adesanya defend his middleweight title after coming up short of light heavyweight gold at UFC 259.
Adesanya (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) failed to become the fifth simultaneous two-division champion on Saturday when he lost a unanimous decision to Jan Blachowicz (28-8 MMA, 11-5 UFC) in the headlining bout at the UFC Apex.
Although it was a competitive fight, the key difference came in the championship rounds when Blachowicz secured timely takedowns to plant Adesanya on his back. The heavier titleholder used his size and position to win the rounds and get the nod.
White had some immediate impressions of the fight, and they centered around 205 pounds not being a good fit for Adesanya at this moment.
“Listen, he’s the middleweight champion. He doesn’t get the light heavyweight title, he doesn’t get Jon Jones,” Adesanya told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at the post-fight news conference. “But you know what, you never hurt somebody for trying to be big and trying to become great. He gave it a shot tonight, and it didn’t happen. And Jan is the man. He is the 205-pound champ, and now he starts taking on all comers in the division.
“Size is always a factor when you move up a weight class in this sport. The double champ thing, it’s like the thing to do right now, but it isn’t easy to do. The people who have done it are absolutely, positively special.”
Following the end of Adesanya’s run, White said he wants to see him go back to the weight class where he rules as champion and fight more equally sized competition.
“Jon Jones used to be at that weight class,” White said. “Jon’s going to be so much bigger than Israel. I think Israel should focus on middleweight right now. Get back in there and keep doing what he does in the middleweight division.”
Adesanya agrees with White at the moment. He said the loss to Blachowicz won’t be his final light heavyweight appearance, but for now he wants to continue to defend his 185-pound title.
“You’ll see me back at 205 later in the future, but right now I’ve got a division I’ve got to dominate,” Adesanya said. “I know they’re probably thinking, ‘Oh, that’s it. He just got taken down.’ All right, cool. But I’ll remind them again why I’m the king at 185.”
As far as a potential opponent, Adesanya’s next foe is likely to come from the Darren Till vs. Marvin Vettori fight on April 10 or Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa on April 17. Adesanya would like Till since he’s the lone name he hasn’t beaten, but he’s ready to fight whomever impresses most.
“I’ve already stated I would like to fight Till if he can get it done,” Adesanya said. “But who is the most deserving? We’ll have to wait and see. Show me something. I know they all think, ‘That’s it. We’ve seen the chink in his armor now.’ But I’ll tell you one thing: Every time in my life that I’ve lost in combat sports, I come back and I f*ck the next guy up. I knock them out, because guess what? My team and I, we actually go back and do the work.”