Israel Adesanya | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Depending on how you look at it, the path to a superfight between the two UFC stars either hit a snag or is clearer than ever after UFC President Dana White announced that the promotion is working on having Adesanya—the current middleweight champion—move up a division to challenge light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.
Theoretically, an Adesanya win would set up a match with Jones, who has won light heavyweight titles on three occasions and is widely regarded as the best ever to compete at 205 pounds. Jones recently announced his plan to move up to heavyweight however, meaning its unclear when or if he will drop back down for a hypothetical matchup with Adesanya.
Adesanya has said in the past that he’s willing to chase Jones all the way to heavyweight, especially if it means possibly becoming the UFC’s first three-division champion. Should Jones fail in his own mission to capture heavyweight gold, “The Last Stylebender” is open to fight him at any weight, especially considering the dim view he has of Jones’ recent performances.
“I’m about to do what he hasn’t done in over 10 years, which is jump up in weight,” Adesanya told ESPN. “I didn’t go recycle all my old opponents and scrap them or find new lower-tier guys to fight. I just said, f*ck it, I’m a go up.
“So I’m gonna do what he hasn’t done in over 10 years, I’m gonna do it in just under three years. … I don’t know, it depends who his next fight is, but I’ve seen the guy live. You can look at his last five fights. Tell me he’s not washed.”
Jones is essentially unbeaten in his career, with his only loss coming via disqualification. That includes his last three title defenses against Dominick Reyes, Thiago Santos, and Anthony Smith, all of which went the distance. The Reyes and Santos verdicts sparked a lively debate among fans and media, with some speculating that Jones did not do enough to win those fights. Jones’ win over Smith was criticized for a lack of action, despite the lopsided scores in his favor.
Regardless, before relinquishing his UFC title this past August, Jones was on a run of successful defenses and even if he takes a loss at heavyweight, Adesanya doesn’t expect their matchup to lose much of its luster.
“For the appeal of the fans, maybe,” Adesanya said. “But then I’m the f*cking light heavyweight champ and the story is he went up to heavyweight, he’s coming back down to light heavyweight to claim back what’s his, and there’s this troll who’s been f*cking with him for the last year and a half, telling him he ain’t sh*t after he started it. And then yeah, yeah.
“So it doesn’t lose luster for me. I stick to my guns and I have work to do and I’m gonna get my work done so it won’t lose luster for me, it’ll just be a nice story of a fallen king trying to come back to reclaim his throne. A new dog in the yard came in and then pissed all over the f*cking place.”
Adesanya and Jones have already fired plenty of shots at each other over the past few months, with the insults becoming deeply personal and at one point involving verbal jabs taken at one another’s family members. According to Adesanya, this beef did not spring up out of nowhere, and it’s actually Jones who started it up after Adesanya’s interim championship win at UFC 236 in April of last year.
“Jon Jones, watch any fight that Jon Jones has ever had in the last year and a half,” Adesanya said. “I don’t say sh*t unless I’m asked about it. But anytime I fight he’s always saying something stupid trying to prod. It happened from the Atlanta fight, 236, since then any fight I’ve had he’s always had something to say to try and like, I don’t know if he’s stealing the spotlight, but cancel some of my shine if you will.
“I can’t fathom why he’s jealous of me, because he shouldn’t be jealous of me, but he is. I can tell you this because it’s easy to recognize when you’ve been there, when you’ve been that green-eyed monster, it’s easy to recognize when you see it in other people. I see it and he’s jealous of me because I’m doing exactly what he wished he could have done. … He is definitely a ‘clout trout.’ He’s a clout trout. Hundred percent. King fish clout trout, bar none, 400-pound clout trout.”
It’s not just in his beef with Jones that Adesanya has noticed his rival’s social media tendencies. When lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement at UFC 254, walking away from competition with a spotless 29-0 record, Jones tweeted that he was willing to “grant” his spot to Nurmagomedov.
Until I take that heavily crown, I grant you the spot. Enjoy Champ
— BONY (@JonnyBones) October 24, 2020
In the days following that tweet, Jones would clarify that he still felt his resume was stronger than Nurmagomedov’s.
Adesanya found Jones’ attitude regarding that situation to be ridiculous.
“He tweeted something, I saw it come up, ‘It’s okay Khabib, I relinquish my GOAT title,’” Adesanya said. “What the f*ck is a GOAT title? There’s no f*cking such thing, it’s stupid, it’s made-up, it doesn’t exist. What’d he say, ‘I relinquish my GOAT title to you’ and then when he sobered up or whatever, he’s like, ‘Oh hey guys, no actually, I’m the GOAT. I’ve worked hard.’
“It’s so stupid because people want to react, they don’t take their time to respond. I implore people in life, not just in fighting, in life, just don’t respond. … There’s times to react, but a lot of people react too quickly. I don’t know how to get that across more, but I’m just saying it again: Don’t react, just respond. It’s going to pay you dividends in life, I promise you.”
Watch Adesanya’s full interview with ESPN below: