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Israel Adesanya on retirement: ‘I don’t want to be fighting when I don’t want to fight’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

MELBOURNE — Interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has no intentions of outstaying his welcome in the fight game.

Speaking of ahead of his title unification bout with Robert Whittaker in the main event of UFC 243 at the Marvel Stadium on Sunday, “The Last Stylebender” broached the topic of his future retirement when discussing if he will reinvent himself in a similar manner to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“Reinventing myself? I’ve done that with dancing,” Adesanya told MMA Fighting.

“It might happen with fighting but it just depends on how long I’m around for. As I said, I’m not here for a long time I’m here for a great time. It depends on how long I’m around for and definitely, reinvention is good. People don’t like change, they always complain about it, but I’ll be like, ‘Fuck off, this is my time’. I might become ‘Freestyle’ that might be my new name in a few years — ‘Freestyle’.”

He insisted that he has no time frame on when he wants to retire, but believes he will feel when it is time to hang up his gloves.

“Nah, [I don’t have a time frame on my retirement], it’s a feeling,” he said. “You’ll know, you’ll know the feeling. I’ve seen a lot of people in this game, we know guys in this game that are fighting at an age that they should not be fighting at, even right now. You have to set yourself up right. I’ve bought like…I think I’ve got like 19 properties now since I’ve joined the UFC. I told you, I’m buying Auckland like I’m Chinese.”

“The Last Stylebender” also gave insights into what his next move might be beyond the fight game.

“I don’t want to be fighting when I don’t want to fight. Even when I was fighting in China I met some guys on the local circuit that we’re fighting, they didn’t enjoy it, they wanted to be musicians and do other things, but they’re just fighting because it pays the bills and they get money for it. It’s passion; if I’m not passionate about something I’m not going to do it. After this, I might have my own production company and get into Esports or animation or voiceover acting or…what’s his name…Andy Serkis…I’m coming for his spot!”

Adesanya also claimed that being mindful of retirement has not come about from fighter’s tarnishing their legacies by continuing to compete in their later years.

“I don’t want to say tarnished because I try to still remember them for what they did, the great times, I’m a glass half-full kind of guy. I know he wasn’t who he is supposed to be, so I just [don’t pay attention] to those fights. People might look at it like ‘His legacy is tarnished...or look at his record...I’m like, ‘No, they were great fighters and I still think they’re great fighters’.”

Check out the full Israel Adesanya interview from Friday’s UFC 243 media day.

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