Israel Adesanya has perfected his recipe for success. Now it’s ready to take it to the next level

LAS VEGAS — Israel Adesanya is ready to step up.

The UFC middleweight champion, who defends his belt on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena against Jared Cannonier in the main event of UFC 276, has made a career out of proving others wrong.

But now, as he takes the next step in his career, he’s ready to spin that star.

For a long time, Adesanya had to prove he could defend the takedown, as he was a kickboxer and few were crazy enough to purposely stand in front of him and try to knock him down. But after stellar performances defending takedowns in wins over Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker, it’s now in the rearview mirror.

And given the level of his striking, he’s a threat to deliver an explosive finish at all times if he doesn’t have to spend so much time fending off takedown attempts.

He doesn’t know exactly how the fight will go, but he firmly believes in one thing: it’s not going to end well for Cannonier.

“Honestly, I really think I’m going to fuck it up,” Adesanya said. “I’ve said this many times before, but I really feel like I’m going to fuck him up. If he wants to try and knock me down, go for it. You won’t be the first. If you want to stand standing with me and testing stand-up skills, I welcome that too, because that’s what I specialize in. But yeah, stay tuned and expect the unexpected.

Israel Adesanya is ready for his star turn. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Adesanya hasn’t had many knockouts recently – four of his last five have gone to decision, including a light heavyweight title challenge to Jan Blachowicz which he lost – although that’s a big deal. partly due to the quality of the opposition.

The higher a fighter rises in rank, the harder it is to score knockouts.

But UFC President Dana White pointed out that Adesanya has scored 15 knockouts among his 22 MMA wins. Given Cannonier’s style, White sees the fight as a brawl.

This could lead Adesanya to the kind of emphatic ending he is looking for. He’s a master counter-attacker and if he can draw Cannonier into his reach and land something, it could be lights out. But what makes White so excited about the fight is that Cannonier also has some serious power.

Cannonier has 10 wins by knockout among his 15 wins, and has been knocked out twice in his five losses.

“It should be an absolute shootout,” White told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t see any of the guys coming in and trying to wrestle or knock this thing to the ground. I see a shootout coming.

Since winning the title in 2019 by knocking out Whittaker, Adesanya has been as active as any top fighter in the UFC. It gives him a lot of time in front of the UFC crowd and that’s important to becoming a superstar.

Conor McGregor did it faster than most because he was one of the best talkers ever and delivered spectacular performances at the same time. Ireland was behind him in a meaningful and passionate way and that support helped make his story more compelling. It was similar to how supporting boxer Manny Pacquiao drew from the Philippines helped him rise to dominant status in the United States.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 21: Israel Adesanya takes the stage during a media opportunity to promote UFC 276 (Adesanya v Cannonier) and UFC 277 (Pena v Nunes), at The Star on June 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for UFC)

Israel Adesanya won’t look past Jared Cannonier, plans to ‘fuck him up’ at UFC 276. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for UFC)

Adesanya was born in Nigeria, has fought extensively in China and now lives in New Zealand, so the passionate home country support that McGregor and Pacquiao have garnered isn’t as evident with him.

But beating elite opponents, battling regularly, and taking the time to make media all contribute to the development of a superstar.

And Adesanya looks set to become a superstar. He’s already one of the biggest names in MMA, but there are indications he could expand beyond the MMA fanbase. He has a sponsorship deal with Puma, a top shoe brand, and he’s outspoken on social issues.

This is the recipe for success. He built the foundation fight by fight and is now ready to take it to the next level.

And one of his secrets is that if he sets goals and has a game plan to move forward, he values ​​fluidity. He is able to adapt as needed and that makes a huge difference.

“I have good physical and mental balance, so I know how to walk the line not underestimating them, but not overestimating them,” he said of his opponents. “You know, being in the present and not looking into the future, or just peeking. I know the main thing for me is if I don’t beat Jared then all my plans I just pushed back. That’s why I don’t care.

“I don’t cling too much to the plans I have. I focus on the present moment, because if I don’t do it now, those plans become null and void. So that’s what helps me. Like I said, I have a good balance.