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MELBOURNE, Australia – Newly crowned UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya arrived at Marvel Stadium for UFC 243 determined to put on a show, and put in a little pre-event prep to make sure he delivered.
Adesanya (18-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) marked the start of his walkout with a three-man street-dance troupe, which he subsequently joined for a specially choreographed routine before he was joined by his teammates for the walk to the octagon.
The Kiwi then produced a remarkable performance to drop Robert Whittaker (20-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC) late in the first round, then finish him in the second, and captured the undisputed UFC middleweight title.
At the post-fight news conference, Adesanya explained why he went the extra mile to ensure he put on a show for the fans.
“Everything went full circle tonight,” he said. “I danced with my ‘day ones,’ my ‘day fives’ – guys I’ve known from way back – to have them set the tone for me and just have fun. When I’m having fun, I’m the best in the world.”
Adesanya’s slick striking style has played its part in a host of exciting octagon encounters already in his career, but the 30-year-old said he wanted to make his fight feel even bigger, and revisited his for a dance routine that had previously been rejected at one of his earlier fights.
“I’m a dancer. I’m an entertainer. I don’t have to worry about it,” he said. “We came up with that on Wednesday. I tried to do it at the (Anderson) Silva fight in February and the UFC was like, ‘No, we can’t have that.’ And I was like, ‘Oh. (Expletive) you, then.’
“And then (for) this fight, this is my show, I’m headlining this (expletive). So I was like, ‘No. I’m going to do it my way, or no way.’”
Adesanya said he knew that his way of expressing himself would bring out the haters. But the self-confident New Zealander said he won’t temper his enthusiasm for his career to appease the doubters.
“No one is doing anything like I’m doing,” he said. “This is a 60,000-seat arena. People, after seeing that entrance, I bet you the green-eyed monsters were like, ‘I (expletive) hope this guy loses.’ I’m sure some of you in here, as well. ‘Ah. This (expletive). Look at him, he thinks he’s the (expletive), man. I hope he loses. I hope he gets flatlined.’
“It’s ingrained in us. It’s this tall poppy syndrome. It’s this jealousy that we see someone shining, you feel it takes away from your own shine. I’m like, ‘Look, I can’t dim my shine just because some people feel uncomfortable.’”
Adesanya said he was happy to push the envelope, citing a pair of his contemporaries as inspiration for his dance-routine entrance.
“Who else on this kind of stage is going to do that before they go and whup some ass? I think James Te Huna is the only one who’s ever done it, from what I can remember, with the ‘Men in Black’ intro, and Anderson Silva did it in PRIDE with his Michael Jackson (expletive).”
He also had a tongue-in-cheek word for one of the world’s biggest pop stars.
“If I could sing, trust me, Justin Bieber wouldn’t even have a job! But, ha! You don’t want to hear me sing.
“You’ve got to realize – this is a spectacle, this is a big stadium. I had to give them a show and set the tone. There’s no one like me. No one.”
News | MMA Junkie