“The Last Stylebender” insisted that he didn’t bat an eyelid when reports of Brad Tavares suffering a broken foot first came to the surface.
Undoubtedly the biggest test of his career, Israel Adesanya found out his veteran opponent may have been forced from the fight when his father rang him in concern after seeing a video of UFC president Dana White claiming that the Hawaiian wouldn’t be able to compete.
Adesanya’s mind was put at ease when he reached out to head coach, Eugene Bareman.
“I have no idea what was going on there,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting.
“Out of nowhere I got word from my Dad saying, ‘What happened to the fight? I heard your opponent broke his foot?’ I hadn’t heard anything about it and I still haven’t. I text Eugene and he told me to ignore it and that Mick Maynard had said it was nothing. Then my Dad sent me on a link, it was a video of Dana White talking about Tavares breaking his foot. Again, I was told to ignore it.”
Tavares has since declared that the fight is “100 percent on”, but once Adesanya gets to fight, he doesn’t mind who he meets in the Octagon.
“My heart didn’t skip a beat. As far as I’m concerned, I’m fighting and if he’s injured, I’ll fight someone else. I always have a feeling that things like this are going to happen when I sign for a fight, but I didn’t lose any sleep over it. I was training that day like normal.”
The New Zealand-based Nigerian suspects that Tavares may have picked up and injury, but someone in his camp may have jumped the gun as to whether he would have to be forced out of the TUF Finale main event:
“Where there’s smoke there’s fire, so maybe there was something. Maybe Dana White or someone else jumped the gun. Regardless of whether he’s picked up an injury or not, it’s not going to change anything. All I know is I’m fighting and my flights are booked. Nothing is going to ruin this for me.”
The UFC’s choice to match the striking ace with Tavares has received a lot of criticism. Many feel as though a talent like Adesanya should be nurtured, but he insists that he would not have signed for the UFC if he wasn’t ready to face the best fighters that the promotion has to offer.
“In the UFC it’s sink or swim and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Fights like this are why I’m happy I didn’t sign earlier in my MMA journey when people were constantly telling me to sign with UFC. The reason why I took my time getting here is because I wanted to be ready to face the best when I got here.
“People think I just showed up out of nowhere. They don’t know anything about the body of work I’ve put together over the last 10 years; they don’t realize where I’ve been or know about the asses I’ve been kicking all over the world.
“I don’t want to be babied all the way to the top. The UFC have been looking after me. I’ve been getting the fights I want, they just didn’t know that I wanted them. They aren’t rushing me, I’m going at my own pace and I’m cruising.”
Adesanya is adamant that he has been fed to the lions since his fledgling days as a professional, so he doesn’t feel as though anything has changed with the Tavares date.
“When they brought me over to China they didn’t have me over there to be their poster boy. They brought me over to be a journeyman so their guys could make their names from beating me. Eventually I just kept beating all of their guys and they signed me up. But as I said, I’ve been fed to the lions for my whole career. I’ve never been fed cans. I’ve always fought whoever they want to put in front of me, whoever the best is.”