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Morning Report: Tyron Woodley believes Israel Adesanya will be second-biggest star in the UFC in two years

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Few fighters in UFC history have had the kind of rise to prominence that Israel Adesanya has enjoyed. A decorated kickboxer, Adesanya made his UFC debut last February with a Performance of the Night-winning knockout of Rob Wilkinson. Since then he’s added six more wins to his resume, three more Performance of the Night bonuses, two Fight of the Night bonuses, and won the interim and then undisputed UFC middleweight titles. Adesanya’s accomplishments earned him the 2018 Breakthrough Fighter of the Year award, and have him as the favorite for 2019 Fighter of the Year, and according to some, things are only going to get better for “The Last Stylebender.”

Tyron Woodley knows something about star power. The former and long-reigning welterweight champion parlayed his notoriety into a number of other avenues, including successful roles as both an analyst and musician, as well as a YouTube show for TMZSports. And though Conor McGregor is the star by which all others are judged in MMA, Woodley says that Adesanya will soon be nipping at the Irish superstar’s heels.

“To be honest, I think Israel is going to evolve into a star right underneath Conor McGregor,” Woodley said on his TMZSports show, The Hollywood Beatdown. “It’s hard to deny him. He fights crazy, he has great I.Q., he’s tough, he’s shown he can take punches, he’s with the sh*t, he’s gonna talk sh*t in the press conferences, his entrance was the best entrance we’ve ever seen in mixed martial arts - even when freaking Conor had a live music playing in the top, it superseded that in my opinion - [and] he’s getting better with time.”

So far for Adesanya, McGregor is the only comparison point that makes sense. Both entered the UFC as accomplished fighters and quickly barnstormed to the top of the rankings, winning titles and prestige along the way. Adesanya’s coronation against Robert Whittaker now has “The Last Stylebender” on the cusp of becoming the next transcendent star, which is possibly why Jon Jones keeps trying to pick a fight with him. But Jones isn’t the only one. After his title win at UFC 243, Woodley listed Adesanya as one of the fights he’d most like to have in the UFC and, though Woodley says the two are friendly with one another, “The Chosen One” reiterates that he’d love to fight Adesanya down the line.

“For me, I like fights that excite me,” Woodley said. “For me it’s like a respect thing, so if I can get in front of somebody like Carlos Condit or Robbie Lawler back in those days, that sh*t pumped me up. Israel is that guy. I know talent from a mile away, I know star power from a mile away. He, in the next two years, will be right underneath Conor McGregor.”

Woodley tried to pick a fight with McGregor for some time while he was the welterweight champion, but had little success. Perhaps Adesanya will be more accommodating.


Jiu-Jitsu. Demian Maia chokes Ben Askren unconscious at UFC Singapore.

Champion. Douglas Lima dominates Rory MacDonald to win Bellator welterweight title and grand prix.

Knockout. Jai Herbert scores stunning knee KO to defend lightweight title at Cage Warrior 109.

Cleared. Nate Diaz exonerated by USADA, cleared to compete at UFC 244.

Notorious. Conor McGregor calls himself ‘the real bad motherf**ker’, expects Nate Diaz to win at UFC 244.

Short-lived. Tito Ortiz back to fighting full time, wants to ‘smash’ Alberto El Patron and then face Ryan Bader in Bellator.


UFC 243 Focus.

Bellator 231 highlights.

Bellator 232 highlights.

Countdown to UFC 244.

Free fight.

Jorge Masvidal’s training camp series continues.

Askren sleeps.


6th Round. Immediate post-fight reaction to UFC Singapore.

Severe MMA. Discussing UFC Singapore, the Bellator doubleheader and Nate Diaz.



Not a care in the world.

View this post on Instagram

Everyone’s on steroids not me

A post shared by Nate Diaz (@natediaz209) on

The streamers and champagne was a great touch. Made it feel like something special.

Also, Bellator in the Walk of Fame (well, a Walk of Fame).


Dude hasn’t fought in almost five years. It would be hilarious if this is what brought Nick back.

What a completely reasonable and sane thing this is.

Dillon saying things.

Robbie Lawler, career ender.

Bellator being the organization to open up a 165 weight class would be very smart.

Jared Brooks has lost his mind.

Chael making fun of Tito again.

UFC 245 poster.


Michael Chandler (19-5) vs. Benson Henderson (28-8); Bellator Japan, Dec. 29.


Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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