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Morning Report: Israel Adesanya is happy with his performance at UFC 276: ‘I didn’t really take my foot off the gas too much’

MMA: JUL 02 UFC 276
Israel Adesanya
Photo by Alejandro Salazar/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the benefit of hindsight, Israel Adesanya is still pleased with his most recent title defense.

Earlier this month, Adesanya defended his middleweight title against Jared Cannonier in the main event of UFC 276, winning a clear unanimous decision. Despite winning his fifth title defense, Adesanya’s performance drew the ire of fans in attendance and around the world for being overly cautious. Even Adesanya admitted to having an “off-night,” but after going back and rewatching it, “The Last Stylebender” appears to be comfortable with how he performed.

“I rewatched it two days after the fight and I watched it once, that’s all I needed for now. I was just happy with the performance,” Adesanya said on his YouTube channel. “I wasn’t ecstatic about the performance, but I was happy with it. It wasn’t what people were trying to make it out to be...

“I didn’t really take my foot off the gas too much. The only time I wasn’t able to was when he held me against the fence. I broke away when I needed to and kept on fighting, as soon as I broke away. I’d normally just keep on him straight away because I know he’s tired from holding me, because I could feel his squeeze just holding me... When he weakened, I got away and put pressure on him straight away, trying to create openings. I just wasn’t able to create the ones that I needed at the time. But yeah, these things happen.”

One of the biggest criticisms Adesanya faced was the lofty expectations he set beforehand. In his last few fights, Adesanya has faced similar criticisms for lackluster performances, and before facing Cannonier, the middleweight champion put those down to being bored, as both were rematches. For this one, Adesanya said the prospect of “fresh blood” excited him and would result in a spectacular performance, but he fell short of that mark. But Adesanya argues that he’s far from the only fighter to not deliver on their own expectations, he’s just the one catching heat for it because he’s on top.

“You can go down the fight card and there are people saying what they’re going to do in the fight, not just myself, other athletes,” Adesanya said. “Shout out to Max Holloway, he said, ‘I’ll be surprised if this goes more than three rounds, because he was that confident in himself.’ He didn’t get the job done but you’re not going to kick a man when he’s down. You only kick him when he’s up.

“We all believe in what we’re going to do. Not just Max, everyone else. I really know what I can do and I know what I could have done to him and I was trying to do it to him, but it just didn’t happen the way I wanted it to. But again, I’m the one getting flak. There was no bit in that fight where I took my foot off the gas in the sense that I’m coasting. I wasn’t coasting. I was like, I’m going to keep touching him until he falls. I didn’t want to overcommit, because I knew he was going to counter me or I knew I’d leave myself in a vulnerable position, and that’s stupid. But I was right there in his face.”

That unwillingness to take on more risk appears to be at the heart of the criticisms Adesanya now faces, but the truth is that winning is more important than putting on fan-friendly fights, and few have done it better in history than Adesanya. Five successful title defenses puts Adesanya in rarified air among UFC champions, and many of the most decorated fighters in the history of the promotion faced similar criticism, which time has seemingly washed away.

“It’s where I want to be,’ Adesanya said when asked about being in a similar position to where Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre once were. “Look at how we speak of them now. But right now I’m in it. People can’t see the forest for the trees. This is a thing that happens a lot. People can’t see the forest for the trees so they throw their toys, shake their rattles or whatnot, but you go down the line, when all is said and done, when my career is finished, we’ll see who was the guy. Eugene [Bareman] said it the best, these spectacular knockouts will come. These marvelous finishes will come, but right now it’s about playing the game, and I played the game very well. I hit the guy and didn’t get hit much. I feel we’re doing just what we need to do.”


TOP STORIES

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Next. Rafael Fiziev challenges Justin Gaethje: ‘We need to know who’s the best’.

Loss. Rafael dos Anjos reacts to stoppage vs. Rafael Fiziev, uncertain what’s next after UFC Vegas 58.

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VIDEO STEW

UFC Vegas 58 Post Show.

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LISTEN UP

On To The Next One. Matches to make following UFC Vegas 58.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

RDA.

Fiziev.

Jared Vanderaa reacts to getting knocked out.

A lot of drip in this photo.

Jiri Prochazka calls out Glover Teixeira for the rematch.

Tony Ferguson keeping the dream alive.

Israel Adesanya still ribbing Paulo Costa.

Sage Northcutt and Shinya Aoki.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Bill Algeo (15-6) vs. Herbert Burns (11-3); UFC Long Island, July 16.

Ozzy Diaz (7-1) vs. Joseph Pyfer (8-2); Contender Series, July 26.

Farid Basharat (8-0) vs. Willian Souza (11-1); Contender Series, July 26.

Anton Turkalj (7-0) vs. Acacio dos Santos (14-4); Contender Series, July 26.

Dennis Buzukja (7-2) vs. Kaleio Romero (6-1); Contender Series, July 26.

Alessandro Costa (10-2) vs. Andres Luna Martinetti (12-0); Contender Series, July 26.

Mackenzie Dern (11-2) vs. Yan Xiaonan (14-3); UFC Fight Night, Oct. 1.

Belal Muhammad (21-3, 1 NC) vs. Sean Brady (15-0); UFC 281, Oct. 22.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading! See y’all tomorrow.


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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