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Israel Adesanya on comparisons to Conor McGregor: ‘He’s on his own journey, I’m on my own journey’

Israel Adesanya
Israel Adesanya faces Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Since breaking into the UFC in February 2018, Israel Adesanya’s accession up the UFC middleweight rankings has been one of the hottest stories in mixed martial arts.

In just 12 months, fans have witnessed “The Last Stylebender” string together victories over Rob Wilkinson, Marvin Vettori, Brad Tavares, Derek Brunson and Anderson Silva. For his efforts in such a short amount of time, UFC officials awarded Adesanya a shot at the interim UFC middleweight championship against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 in April.

If he leaves victorious in Atlanta, Adesanya will have gone from an unranked newcomer to UFC champion in 14 months, a feat almost unheard of in the promotion. So, it’s only natural for fans and pundits to compare the rise of the Nigerian born striker to the emergence of Conor McGregor, who captivated the fight world from 2013 to 2015.

“A guy like Conor McGregor, one thing I really appreciated when he first got in the game and one thing that really inspired me was his love for fighting,” Adesanya told Luke Thomas during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour. “Eventually, I don’t know, it kind of became not just about fighting and more about the money and selling numbers and breaking records and pay-per-view and all that kind of stuff. But, one thing, and I don’t know the guy that well, I can say from what I see lately, from the way he’s posting his training [videos], he’s getting back into that same mindset.

“We’re warriors, we’re gladiators, we’re modern day f*cking badasses. A fighter walks in the room and people are like ‘oooo’ because everyone is trying to be a tough guy. But, we don’t have to do sh*t because we are tough guys and everyone knows it. So, I feel like he’s getting back to that mindset of the younger Conor McGregor that loved to fight and f*ck everyone up.”

The similarities between Adesanya and McGregor’s respective rises up the ranks are clearly there. But while McGregor was never one to shy away from flaunting his numbers and records, Adesanya just wants to decimate everyone on his path the glory.

From there, the numbers will come.

“[McGregor] is on his own journey, I’m on my own journey,” Adesanya said. “That’s the beauty of this sport. We’re trying to get to the same place, maybe, but we’re on different paths.

“I just want to f*ck everyone up. I’m not a f*cking asshole or a dick or anything, unless they deserve it. I just want to fight and be remembered as the best, who fought everyone and beat them. Then the money, the numbers, the records, they all chase me. So, there’s a little bit of strategy to it but I don’t want to go too deep. I’ll keep that to myself because look, [14 months] and I’ve already headlined a couple shows and I’m already on the way. I wouldn’t say I’m at the top yet. But, I keep rising, and even when I’m at the top, I keep rising. I just want to have these key moments, these key fights, and that’s about it.”

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