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Dana White: Israel Adesanya ‘should focus on middleweight right now’

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Before UFC 259, Israel Adesanya’s superfight with Jan Blachowicz was cast as a gateway to a possible heavyweight fight with his rival Jon Jones. After UFC 259, a different plan has emerged.

UFC President Dana White indicated Adesanya’s best move after losing a lopsided decision to light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz is to stay at 185 pounds, where he’s defended the title on two occasions.

“Jon Jones used to be at that weight class,” White told reporters after Blachowicz’s emphatic win this past Saturday night at UFC APEX. “Jon’s going to be so much bigger than Israel. I think Israel should focus on middleweight right now. Get back, keep doing what he does in the middleweight division.”

In the wake of his first professional MMA loss, Adesanya agreed that a middleweight return was logical. The 31-year-old has been unstoppable at 185 pounds, mowing through the competition to claim the undisputed title in October 2019. But he was more optimistic long-term about fighting once again at 205, the division his rival Jones once dominated before an ambitious move up to heavyweight.

“You’ll see me back at 205 [pounds] later in the future,” Adesanya said. “Right now, I’ve got a division I’ve got to dominate. I know what they’re thinking, ‘Oh, that’s it, you’ve just got to take him down and then you’ve got him.’ All right, cool, bet, but I’ll remind them again why I’m the king of 185.”

White said Adesanya’s fight with Blachowicz aimed to answer the question of “is Israel going to beat Jan and go on to superstardom and possibly fight Jon Jones at heavyweight,” and it was one of the reasons UFC 259 was so highly anticipated. Adesanya had talked up a potential showdown with the ex-light heavyweight champ in December, and the two had sparred repeatedly online.

But as Blachowicz began to pull ahead of his smaller opponent in the UFC 259 main event, however, Jones wrote off the prospect in real time, heckling the middleweight champ’s performance.

White has said Jones will face the winner of an upcoming heavyweight title rematch between champ Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou at UFC 260 later this month. Any plan of an end-of-year showdown between Jones and Adesanya now appears to be off the table.

Another revelation answered by UFC 259’s headliner was how remarkable a talent two-division champion Amanda Nunes is after notching another dominant title defense in the featherweight division.

“The double-champ thing, it’s the thing to do right now, but it isn’t easy to do,” White said. “The people who have done it are absolutely, positively special.”