Between MMA media and fans, hype trains are well-oiled machines driven by an insatiable thirst for The Next Big Thing.
But given what we know about Israel Adesanya, it’s hard to genuinely refute the “rising star” label so liberally thrown around. The 13-0 middleweight is an accomplished kickboxer, flashy in personality and fighting style, and seems to generate headlines by virtue of his mere existence.
Since being booked to fight Brad Tavares at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale, many have questioned whether the main event slot or #8 ranked opponent have come too soon for “The Last Stylebender”.
Headlining a card during International Fight Week which will air on free TV is prime real estate for an up-and-coming prospect. Very few fighters are given the opportunity, and even fewer in just their third UFC appearance. In contrast, Tavares will be headlining an event for the first time in what will be his 17th UFC appearance.
However, Adesanya admits he didn’t arrive at the UFC expecting a slew of lower level opponents upon which to build a highlight reel. With two quick turnarounds under the promotion, it seems Adesanya is looking to expedite his route to the top. And who can say that the Nigerian born prospect boasting a remarkable 75-4 kickboxing record hasn’t paid his dues?
City Kickboxing gym owner and Adesanya’s head coach, Eugene Bareman, admits they’ve been preparing for middleweight’s elite for some time.
“Israel and I have trained for this two or three years ago; we trained for all of the top guys years ago,” Bareman told MMAFighting.
“We’d look at new guys making waves in the division and we’d look at what guys like Brad Tavares do. We’ve done everything we can to prepare for everyone in this division. We also knew that we could end up getting thrown in the deep end very quickly, so we’re prepared for it.”