Now that the fight’s over, Israel Adesanya isn’t afraid to admit that his UFC 234 matchup with the legendary Anderson Silva brought out the fan in him.
If you thought it was cool to see the greatest striker of his generation square off against the man many believe will be the one who is in the process of taking over that mantle, well, imagine what it must be like to actually be in there.
That’s why Adesanya’s not afraid to admit he’s already watched the film of his unanimous decision victory over Silva in the main event of the show in Melbourne, Australia, more than once, but that he’s probably going to watch it more than any fight he ever has in the UFC.
“I want to watch it again and again and again,” Adesanya said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour with Luke Thomas. “I’ll probably watch it more than the rest of my fights in the UFC after the fight. But yeah huge for me. I really just want to watch the fight. Every time I’ve watched it, I’ve watched the fight twice now, every time I’ve watched it I’ve taken something away from it. Myself, Silva and just the whole spectacle itself.”
A day after the fight, it still felt a bit like an out-of-body experience going up against the former UFC middleweight champion, who still holds the UFC records for longest title reign and longest win streak.
“It’s still cool,” Adesanya said. “Still very cool. Still kind of surreal a little bit. Because I was watching it myself, there’s certain moments that just, for me they’re like special moments for me because they were sh*t that I kind of like, I already knew and I’ve seen before happen many times with other fighters, Silva’s opponents, and I never fell victim to.”
Indeed, as Adesanya pieces things together, he begins to realize his favorite part of the fight came in the second round. That was generally acknowledged as Silva’s best round of the fight. It was where he 43-year old showed the best flashes of the fighter he was in his prime, as he landed a pair of killer jabs and briefly had Silva on the run.
“I wasn’t sure about the second round at first, because the second round, his only success in that fight was in the second round when he hit me, it was like two jabs in a row,” Adesanya said. “So he jabbed me, and I was like oh sh*t, and even before I could even, like, ‘f*ck’, he just jabbed me and then boom, another one just hit me and I was like ‘f*ck’ and then I was blind in one eye and I was on the fence, and he knew it, and he was trying to close in.”
But from there, Adesanya kept his wits about him at the precise point at which so many Silva opponents crumbled, and it’s clear “The Last Style Bender” sees this as a point of pride.
“The way how I handled that, that was really cool for me,” Adesanya said. “A lot of people we just, their mind just plays tricks on them and then they’re like ‘oh, fuck’ and then they turn their back and then he f*cks them up. That was the only problem that I had mostly in that fight.
“He’s never fought a striker like me,” Adesanya continued. “He’s never fought a guy like me. Everyone else he’s fought just stands there and looks stupid. So I was able to get my footwork right, I was able to get my timing right, I was able to outmaneuver him, able to be a step ahead, there were situations, there were certain strikes where literally just (makes noise like a strike just missing) but it was cool to see in real time they looked like they were hitting, but they were just whizzing past. And he was, he’s still, man he’s quick.”
While it was a clear-cut victory for Adesanya, he gives Silva credit for the energy be brought to the bout.
“[The fight was] competitive to the point that he brought it, yes, but not competitive to the point that he was matching me,” Adesanya said. “One time he was able to match me was in the second round, and that was because he landed a nice jab, you know? Good on him. Credit to him. He landed that nice jab, and he flipped it, it was well-timed, and the second follow up jab was well timed, and he was like oh sh*t I gotta get this guy now. So it was time to put that pressure on him, put the sauce on. And he brought that energy, I felt that energy and I was like man, this is how people wilt under him, they don’t know what to do.”
The middleweight contender admits there was one point in the bout where he nearly fell for one of Silva’s most tried-and-true tricks.
“When he was putting his hands down it was kind of like it was expecting me to throw. It was so tempting. I was like ‘this is how guys get caught’ when Anderson puts his hands down and says ‘get my face,’ so tempting, but I was like ‘nah f*ck you.’ The thing is in the third round I was like stop doing that, ... I was like man if I was thinking about if I land something on you, you’re f*cking going to sleep.”
Silva was a sentimental favorite to the Australian crowd. On paper, that might sound strange since Adesanya is a New Zealander. But he’s not going to begrudge the crowd for rooting for one of the game’s all-time greats the first time he appeared in their country.
“Silva is a big, big name worldwide, and this is the first time he’s actually fought outside of North America and Brazil in a long time, or ever,” Adesanya said. “So, for people who are big fans of MMA, a lot of them are big fans because of Silva and yeah, it’s worldwide and he affected people worldwide and he had big support over here.”